When it is neither day nor night, and shadows arise tinging everything with mystical potential, such is the “time of dogs and wolves”. Originally from the French, “l’heure entre chien et loup” is an expression that refers to the twilight hours and their entrancing uncertainty. Uttered by Hyunjae and Juyeon during the dramatic bridge of The Boyz‘s latest single, “Reveal”, it serves as a fitting analogy to the transformations unveiled by the group in this comeback.
Best known for boyish concepts such as “Giddy Up” and “Bloom Bloom”, The Boyz have now undergone what can be called a coming-of-age ritual in K-pop. Often, boy groups with a lively discography take a turn to darker, sexier concepts in order to showcase their growth. With two years behind their back, five EPs, and one recent tour through Asia and Europe, The Boyz were not only ready for this change, but had been expressing their desire for it on social media and interviews.
“Reveal”, the lead track on their first LP of the same name, arrived to the world on the full moon of February 10 KST. This is hardly a random choice, as the concept chosen for their revelation is werewolves — therefore, the intimate connection with the satellite. While the moon has served as inspiration for several moving releases in K-pop, werewolves (and wolves) often rendered exaggerated, borderline comical concepts (see Exo’s “Wolf”, TRCNG’s “Wolf Baby”, or even Red Velvet’s “Really Bad Boy”). “Reveal”, however, opts for a different path, treating this concept with subtlety and composure.
The opening scene of the MV represents the group awakening to these transformations. Once covered in shadows, the group gets up and notices the moonlight. Instantly, the camera cuts to their silhouettes against a red, curtained background. Red is the color of passion, lust, and violence — the animalistic, wolf side that yearns to come out. In contrast to that, the other set used for choreographies is a well-lit stage representing The Boyz human, tamed side.
But instead of a literal storyline, what follows is a juxtaposition of enticing, artistic images that only hints to werewolves. Sunwoo and Hyunjae are trapped under red strings and drapes, imprisoned by their instincts. Eric drenches himself in blue paint as if it was blood from a prey. Jacob and Haknyeon strand under a green light, dodging their way through debris and destroyed furniture.
Aesthetically, the MV excels in the use of stark contrasts, especially between light and shadows. Nuanced by lighting in red and green, blue and yellow, “Reveal” is dark but multifaceted, and the exploration of these dualities reinforces the ambiguity of being half-man, half-monster. As the moon who moves from darkness to light, so do The Boyz introducing their shadow side to the public.
Small touches help to create an eerie atmosphere — the moving chandelier, Sunwoo’s stained shirt, Haknyeon waking up as the moon reveals itself. However, the most intriguing scene is the aerial shot of Younghoon in a forest, encountering a gigantic wolf with lit up eyes. This shot only lasts for a split second, but its visual impact instills the MV with magic.
According to traditions from Native Americans and Medieval Europeans, “Wolf Moon” is the name given to January’s full moon. While this release is a little late to tie up on that concept, the MV makes a clever use of February’s “Snow Moon” name too. Q’s individual shots portray him waking up covered in little pieces of white paper, and the group leaves the frame amidst the same snowfall at the end of the MV. Details like these help to give credibility to the concept while maintaining artistic freedom.
Another interesting feature is the switching of aspect ratios throughout the video. With a wider ratio, the viewer takes distance, yet more of the scene is revealed. Furthermore, with a fullscreen, the viewer gets a closer look at the subject, therefore getting more intimate with them. The production takes advantage of this dynamic, albeit not following a pattern. The camera zooms in and spins out of choreography shots and close-ups with no discernment between them. The cuts are abrupt and violent in one moment, but slow and gradual on another, like the jaws of an untamed beast.
Despite its aesthetic scenarios, “Reveal” is largely a performance MV. Choreography shots and impeccable styling take the lead, displaying some of The Boyz’s best talents. While the artistic scenes refrain from werewolf motifs, the dance is filled with finger bites, claws grasping, and tempting interactions. The lyrics also showcase feral emotions, where the group demands to be seen:
I’m down for you
It’s gonna be dark
Come to me, I’m there for you
The night when I revealed everything
Now look straight at me
By taking on a different concept from what they were used to, The Boyz embrace their shadow and face uncertainty with convincing self-assuredness. Admitting to their animal side, they are now free to turn its weakness into strength, and add yet another skill to their impressive baggage. Ultimately, “Reveal” is more than a simple unveiling of paths. It is an irrecusable invite to a world of potential.
(Youtube, BBC. Lyrics via 1theK. Images via Cre.Ker Entertainment.)