With bright lights and loud colors as a backdrop, The Boyz’ Thrill-ing takes listeners on a quirky musical journey from sexy nights to spooky nightmares and bittersweet endings. With ten months between this comeback and the last, the members have departed from their sexier, chicer concept and opted for a versatile, bright, and summery one.
The music flirts with contrast and intensity, like the highs and lows of the rollercoasters they reference in the title track. In an interview, the members describe the theme for the album as “introducing various types of thrill,” exploring different facets through each song.
“Thrill Ride” is the opening and title track on the album, like the entrance to an amusement park with a variety of rides and attractions to discover. However, as the track progresses it becomes clear that the members are not only in an amusement park, but they embody one. Bright, bubbly, colorful, sexy, edgy, goofy, sporty- they seemingly have it all in excess.
Sunny imagery runs throughout the whole MV, with flashes of several other settings like a beach, a moonlit bar, a basketball court, and a pool to name a few. The members pull out all the stops to show a variety of sides to themselves, and it makes for a fun, almost dizzying experience for the viewer. Read in between the lines, The Boyz are saying that they are relatable, and everyone can find something to enjoy in their concepts, discography, and personalities.
Admittedly, there is a bit of a sensual undertone to the lyrics of the song. As artists they are appealing to all listeners, but as men more broadly they could also be communicating that they can fit whatever someone wants them to be, from sexy to bubbly to chic, and able to satisfy any partner.
The music is up-tempo, fun hip hop with overdubbed midi bass and busy percussive mixing. There are vocals chops, layers of vocal harmony, and gang vocals abound, with one member often leading in the forefront of the mix and taking center stage, both sonically and in the MV or choreography. Unsurprisingly, the contrasting sounds of the verses, chorus, and pre-chorus further emphasize The Boyz’ ability to adapt to nearly any genre and style, the fiery post-chorus especially. The most memorable moments that stick out from the overall texture of the song are New and Hyunjae’s sleek bridge before the final chorus, and Sunwoo’s whispered, sensual verse that follows it. Though a bit disorienting at first listen, the title track really drives home the group’s versatility and desire to be something for everyone, making for a really enjoyable and catchy addition to their discography.
Most similar to the title track are the tracks “Dancing Til We Drop” and “B.O.Y. (Bet On You).” The former is a funky, bass driven pop and dance song while the latter is a smoother, hopeful love song. Interestingly, both paint the picture of a summer night full of love, life, and wonder. However, one leans into the thrill of partying with someone you love and just having fun enjoying life, while the other describes a sleepless night filled with the warmth of budding romance. Both songs invite the listener to let go of their worries and give into their desires.
The two remaining tracks are the most unforgettable and surprising B-sides on the album: “Merry Bad Ending” and “Nightmares.”
Describing the bittersweet end of a romance, “Merry Bad Ending” is an up-tempo ballad about watching love slip from one’s grasp and yearning for a “to be continued” rather than a “the end.” Describing a “nightmare that keeps repeating” the members express their desire to disassociate and soften the blow of a sad ending while hoping for a different outcome. The texture of the track is noticeably thinner with bass and guitar in the forefront, and the melodic bass riff at the beginning of the chorus runs parallel to the vocals, emphasizing the melody and adding intensity. The motif repeats several times, making it delightfully catchy and singable.
In the spirit of being relatable, this feeling of listless disillusionment that the members dance around really hits home. It is a feeling that is often difficult to put into words, but made into a song. Considering how the members are demonstrating different kinds of “thrill,” it sounds like the moment right as a rollercoaster pulls back into the start of a track, momentarily realizing that the ride is over and it is time to depart back to reality.
The last track “Nightmares” is a weird, ghastly foray into minor keys and “cruel fairytale[s].” It has a haunting vocal riff that is introduced in the beginning of the song and returns throughout. Talking about love like a nightmare they can not escape, The Boyz turn the whole story on its head and express the “thrill” and adrenaline of impending horror and cold darkness. The music is engaging, but it is really the members’ singing and unique, repeated vocal chops that make the song stick out. It has a darkness and hopelessness that is unexpected for an otherwise bubbly and upbeat album. It may be my penchant for weird, memorable gems, but “Nightmares” is such a fun and spooky jewel of a B-side on the album. It does not fit the whimsical, amusement park concept directly, but it could definitely be imagined as a Haunted House attraction.
Thrill-ing is an exciting exploration of all things thrill. Through the range of the songs, The Boyz emphasize their ability to be versatile, relatable, and skilled performers of whatever concept and genre they choose. Though a bit chaotic and overwhelming at first, it is nice to see a departure from their chic, vampiric concepts as of late, especially given the conclusion of Kingdom. With this comeback, it seems like a new direction for The Boyz, one with seemingly endless new concepts and themes to explore. Here’s to hoping that whatever they choose for their next comeback, it is just as compelling as this one.