“I’m gonna win this fight.” And win the fight they did, with the masterpiece of an album that Got7‘s Spinning Top: Between Security and Insecurity is.

Coming eight months after the successful Present: You, the JYP Entertainment boy group is back with Spinning Top, an album which shows a new, vulnerable side of them. The album contains Got7’s raw emotions from beginning to end and features several songs which were co-created by the members themselves. Leader JB contributed creatively to “Eclipse” and “Page” for instance.

Spinning Top brings listeners on a journey together with the group, and its carefully ordered tracklist speaks of a constant battle between confidence and doubt. The journey starts off intensely with “1°,” which Yugyeom had a hand in creating. Right from the get-go, the track’s instrumental seems to be setting up for something greater, and it works well as an introduction to the overall concept of the album. A certain dread and anticipation is built through the track and the group (and listeners of the album) gradually move closer towards an overwhelming darkness. Degree by degree, that darkness of uncertainty and fear threatens to overtake us.

When an eclipse happens, the bright moon is engulfed by darkness, and this occurs in the title track “Eclipse,” which shuttles between these two extreme states. As described by the members, “Eclipse” is a description of Got7’s love for their fans and their dark worries about their popularity fading. It is rare that K-pop groups are this candid about their thoughts, but it just goes to show that insecurity is something that even the best of us struggle with. The challenging choreography of “Eclipse” and the image of strength and charisma it creates for the group solidifies this point, making their honesty here even more empowering.

I can’t handle it, this weight on my shoulders
It scares me more as you are become more precious
When I’m covered in the shadows
My mind becomes unstable
The anxiety gets worse, Get away…

The song begins in a more muted fashion, but this works as a contrast to the emotional chorus and to the build-up that occurs towards the end of the song. Its pre-chorus, featuring the sweet yet strong voices of Yugyeom and Jinyoung, is definitely a highlight, leading up well to the intense, hard-hitting chorus. The range displayed here is amazing as always, with JB and Youngjae hitting some impressive high notes. However, what stands out more is the great vocal balance of the members in this track. As a team that is almost evenly split between rappers and vocalists, the reliable rap-line provide a deep lower register that keeps this song grounded even as the melodies get higher.

The rhythm of this track jumps around a lot as well, with beats being played and reversed in creative ways to differentiate various parts of the song. It also contains a certain disjointed nature that “1°” had. While this is somewhat of a musical style for Got7, it actually works in this album. Just as quickly as the moods of this song changes, the emotions of the protagonist of the song fluctuate rapidly in unpredictable ways.

Similar to how the music video for “Eclipse” ended in darkness, the despair starts to set in in “The End.” Contrary to its defeatist lyrics, the song is pretty laid-back and pleasant, at least at its start. It is definitely one of the most enjoyable and well-produced songs of the album, especially since Jinyoung’s deep understanding of his members’ strengths is evident here. Be it Yugyeom’s silky high notes or Jackson‘s steadfast lower register, each member sings and raps comfortably in a manner highlighting their respective strengths. The extensive rap melodies also help in the transitions within the track, creating a more cohesive overall sound.

The repetition of “끝” (The End) in the track changes its tone over the course of the song, making the sense of finality more concretised each time it is repeated. Thankfully for them (and for listeners!), “Time Out” comes on just as the state of despair reaches its peak. The first fully light-hearted track of the album, the members take a brief respite from the waves of darkness and doubt that have been shrouding them. With the song’s upbeat tempo and playful melody, hope is conveyed along with the message that things would appear better in the morning.

The use of the echo effect in the line “time out” is effective as it seems reminiscent of a referee calling the players to take a time out on the court. In the same way, when we adopt a third party viewpoint, a different perspective on our struggles, they sometimes do get smaller and seem more conquerable.

Following their battles with their insecurities, Got7 returns with a newfound confidence in their stead and asks their fans to continue trusting in them with “Believe” (or “Will You Trust Me,” a direct translation). Yet another one of the members has their hand in the creative production, with Bambam contributing to this rap-centered track. While the integration of vocals and raps in the chorus is very effective, it is, unfortunately, less so in the track as a whole. Although they have the most parts in the song, the rappers rarely get chances to shine, especially since many of their similar sounding rap verses are collapsed together. The excessive vocal effects used in the verses also take away from the great quality of their natural voices, which is a pity for the track.

Regardless, the chorus surprises with its intensity and its beautiful melody. This particular aspect successfully brings out the sincerity and earnestness of Got7’s appeal to their fans. Ending off with a bang, “Page” is the perfect way to finish the battle between insecurity and security. Armed with determination and hope of a future together, this powerful track leaves no room for doubt as Got7 sets out to write their own futures. The confidence expressed feels especially precious considering the struggle it took to get to this victory, and “Page” is a wonderful conclusion to this journey of an album.

I sincerely applaud Got7 for being brave enough to share their personal thoughts through their music and on such a public platform. It really speaks to their maturity as musicians that they are willing and able to express their honest sentiments in this manner. Compared to their other releases, this is a tad more refreshing because of how closely each track keeps to the overall concept of the album, and how they really work together to tell a complete story.

(YouTube. Images via JYP Entertainment)