This year saw Big Hit Entertainment truly establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with. Beyond being just the label of BTS, the company has been making waves as a business entity, acquiring labels and even made an IPO debut. If there is one thing that Big Hit has more than ever, it is money and resources. All of this is channeled to their prized project — newest boy group TXT (Tomorrow X Together). Having debuted just last year, it is clear that no effort or budget is spared for the group, whose fans enjoy carefully thought out album concepts and an elaborate MV universe that includes videos for even some of their B-sides.

Living up to their name, TXT’s past releases have been relatably thematically centred around friendship and youth. Following a series entitled The Dream Chapter, each mini-album represents a new theme and chapter within TXT’s storyline. Following their darkest title track to date “Can’t You See Me?” earlier this year, TXT returns with “Blue Hour”, this time under an album entitled minisode1.

The video opens with a promising and intriguing start — an enchanting folk tune, with a thick voice humming a tune over a simple acoustic guitar. The members are asleep around a lone tree with the exception of Beomgyu, who watches as the opened book Soobin was presumedly reading, falls to the ground. The sound scares a bright blue bird away, one that flies into the direction of a faraway ferris wheel.

Narratively, the MV does not aim to achieve much. Besides alluding to where “Blue Hour” might fit into their MV-verse, most of the MV merely switches several wondrous yet juvenile backdrops. The green screens teeter closely to being phony and cheesy, but fortunately never falls over the edge thanks to the beautifully-executed colour grading, mixed with shots of real scenery. Through the classic tropes of candied skies, an amusement park, and a seemingly enchanted forest, TXT takes viewers through a pleasant but rather mild adventure. Other than the rather random appearance of a squirrel, nothing surprising really happens. Thus, while the visuals do a serviceable job at supporting the track, there was plenty of unfulfilled potential for more compelling or unique visuals, especially for a green screen centred around fantasy.

Instead, the MV best highlights the choreography, foregrounding the members themselves. This is the group’s simplest choreography to date and takes on a different style and genre for TXT, but they make quite a spectacle of it. Having already shown their versatility in the span of their short career thus far, TXT proves once again that they are excellent performers. They skillfully adapt their usually regular dance style and facial expressions to suit a more relaxed and groove-centric choreography. During the song’s bridge, the track itself goes in a surprising direction, but the MV does not draw too much attention to this change. The members are now decked in coordinated pastels, transiting naturally into a fun but satisfying dance sequence that best encapsulates the song’s charm, with Yeonjun as the clear standout.

Set against a heavily saturated colour backdrop, this MV is starkly different from its processors. TXT experiment successfully with plenty of atmospheric music in their discography, and this is complemented through the fictional yet whimsical quality of their MVs. However, “Blue Hour” takes a more direct approach to fiction, and the scenes here take on the innocence and unadulterated joy of a child’s dream through unabashed and unrealistic colours and graphics. Lyrically, the song also diverges from their usual themes, and seems to describe a fleeting and temporal romance, even directly mentioning magic several times.

My time machine
I know the end will come
Cuz of imagination
Before the orange-glowing magic in the sky comes to an end

As the MV draws to a close, the lights are turned off and the festivities end. In an outro scene, the acoustic guitar from the intro returns once more, and Beomgyu is seen as stepping on the fallen book as he walks away mysteriously into the vast unknown. The central motif of a book is not new for TXT, and has been used to connect TXT’s MVs from “Run Away” to “Can’t You See Me?” before. It makes its appearance here again. There could be several interpretations of what this might all mean. The simplest one would be that “Blue Hour” is merely a spinoff from their main story that takes place in an alternate reality, explaining Beomgyu’s disregard for something that symbolises their story. As the lyrics suggest, TXT’s time in this space comes with a definite end date, and it is this urgency to act on the feelings of joy and passion now before it all ends that give the song its momentum.

Sonically, the song takes an unexpected turn with the introduction of a magical instrumental melody that leaves as abruptly as it entered. In no time, the song presents its true form as a fun and lighthearted track, with a funky bass-line forming the base of an otherwise basic pop song. Colour is added to the song through the inclusion of subtle synth lines and harmonies in the background, but the song tires its chorus near the end, and the track could have afforded a more exciting follow-up to its innovative bridge. While TXT has already proven that they have their own sound separate from their seniors, BTS, one cannot help but draw comparisons of “Blue Hour” to “Boy with Luv” and “Dynamite”, especially with BigHit’s style of processing vocals to be heavily and at times unnecessarily, loaded with effects.

Nothing about TXT as a musical act comes across as organic, and they make no attempt to come across as such. Their sound and concepts are squeakily manufactured to polished perfection and that is not necessarily a bad thing for them, especially since the members have the professionalism to keep up. This also means that TXT more than makes up for it with the artistry and impressive innovativeness of their releases, making their discography quite unlike any group out there currently.

The only flaw of TXT is that their music lacks soul. It is hard to feel an emotional connection to the group through their music. Thus, though not by any means their most compelling release to date, the fun and personable MV for “Blue Hour” does successfully bring TXT a little closer to listeners through its approachable delivery. By returning to their bright concept from their debut, but taking on an entirely new sound and a more mature delivery, the possibilities continue to be endless for TXT.

Having mentioned their interest in honing their composing and lyric writing, this comeback also marks the first time members take the rein on contributing to their B-side tracks. It will be interesting to see how different TXT might look and sound if the members eventually participate in making their title track. Ultimately, just like the lyrics of “Blue Hour” suggest, it is all about imagination. For these promising rookies and protagonists, the subsequent chapters of their story are still unwritten, and we will be holding our breaths in anticipation as we flip the pages.

(YouTube [1][2]. Images via Big Hit Entertainment)