From their January comeback with “Sugar Rush Ride,” and a world tour that took up a great deal of the spring and summer, to their performance at the VMAs in September, it’s safe to say that it’s been a busy year for TXT. With more Western attention than ever, TXT of late have felt like they’re playing twister with multiple bases: the domestic fanbase, the long time international fans, and the newer, Billboard-focused foreign market they’re trying to pull. Appeasing every aspect of their ever-growing network of promotion is impossible, but TXT have attempted it with a long-awaited full album comeback in the form of The Name Chapter: Freefall and its title, “Chasing that Feeling.”

Contradictory in many ways, “Chasing That Feeling” presents a catchy enough track with an MV that feels like it was meant to be an action movie — only without any actual action. It’s an MV that makes one wonder: out of all of TXT’s audiences, who is this for?

There are two answers to this question. The MV, on one hand, is for the fans who have followed TXT on their journey of discovery through the highs and lows of youth and ultimate decision to leave it behind for reality. On the other hand, the MV is also meant to appeal to the American mainstream market that Big Hit so desperately wants to break into again (as proven by the English version of the track) and who are possibly learning about TXT for the first time. Unfortunately, on both counts, the MV comes up just short of satisfying.

So first, let’s dive into the lore. TXT’s visual narrative journey thus far has led them to magical worlds through the splitting of reality and the escapism of imagination. Back when Big Hit actually invested in the lore and didn’t expect fans to fill in the blanks with vague visual references, they wove a complex web of growth and pain that captured the attention of so many Gen Z fans going through the same experiences of isolation and angst (think “Magic Island,” “Eternally,” or “0X1=Lovesong“). With “Good Boy Gone Bad” in 2022, TXT experienced their first break into maturity (and arguably a significant break in their narrative arc) through heartbreak. The follow up, “Sugar Rush Ride,” ultimately saw them leaving the Neverland of youth and accepting that the euphoric pull of youth was no longer enough to keep them in suspended in fantasy.

I turn my back on heaven and fall from the sky

Maybe I’ll miss it for good, the sweet mirage

Pain on my flesh, I prepared to die

Faster still down to earth like a meteorite

Arriving at “Chasing That Feeling,” the members are meant to be set in reality in the form of a New York City set and lots of special effects. Fittingly, their arrival to reality is a cruel one. They literally land in the sewer underground, beaten and broken, and are expected to make their way above ground into the real world independent of one another. Thankfully for them, they have magical color-coded orbs (a throwback to “Nap of a Star“) to guide them on their individual journeys of self discovery. Only… that discovery seems to amount to grossly violating traffic laws on all forms of transportation, some parkour in an alley, and ultimately re-joining forces to vogue in the street as the world transforms around them.

It’s anti-climatic to say the least.

If Big Hit was going for confronting the blasé nature of reality, the MV had opportunities to achieve that. However, they went for the superpowers angle without playing up any of the fascination that the real world can bring — especially if the members have technicolor orbs on their side. TXT don’t look like they’re enjoying the real world, nor do they appear to be confused by it. They’re just… there. Standing in places. Chasing orbs. Filling specific marks on the set that were available to them and not actually interacting with the space. Because the choreography shots are limited to the first verse and the finale, there is little movement to speak of aside from the forms of transportation the members hitch a ride on.

On the flip side, the MV isn’t only intended for fans who are attempting to fill in the blanks and connect it to the TXT lore they’ve followed for years. The MV is also meant to be a big budget envoy into the aesthetics of a non K-pop market a la Jungkook‘s “Seven” — also filmed at Universal Studios — or J-Hope‘s “On the Street.” In this way, the MV hits a lot of familiar marks: a vague NYC set, dark (so dark), and unnecessary CGI. However, “Chasing That Feeling” as a track and a concept doesn’t feel at all connected to the set in the way the mentioned MVs did. The members, not through any fault of their own, breathe no life into the story; their fashion blends into the background of the cityscape, and they’re barely introduced to a new audience aside from still shots plus special effects that leave a viewer more frustrated than intrigued.

Let’s be real: Soobin could very easily catch that red orb atop the subway car, and the taxi Yeonjun is riding behind is moving at 10kph. Similarly, Taehyun has no reason to parkour, nor is there any explanation for why Beomgyu is driving a car upside down in a tunnel. Due to the filming, there’s little that’s actually “cool” about the visuals the members are presenting — aside from Huening Kai killing it with his point moves in the choreography.

Instead, it feels like Big Hit had a budget, and some suit in the boardroom said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if Taehyun stood on a traffic light for no reason?” This isn’t to dig on the members; it is to say that despite all the movement of the set itself, there is no actual movement or development for the members, which puts them in a tricky place if TXT are meant to be the focus of the MV.

The real weakness in Big Hit’s aesthetic approach to this concept is that by placing so much focus on the set and special effects without actually incorporating the members into it in a way that forwards a narrative (or even motion), the set becomes the main character. And what a boring main character it is — not in a “wow, reality sucks” kind of way, nor in a “there’s still joy to find in this new reality way,” but in a way that just is. And the final product is just that: stagnant.

It’s a shame that that’s the case because “Chasing That Feeling” is a synth-heavy bop. The track, though lacking in a heavy climax, is groovy and fun. It inspires freedom; it inspires movement, and the MV fails to capture that feeling TXT are so desperately chasing in the lyrics. Synth pop isn’t a huge risk for the group — they’ve attempted more polarizing sounds than “Take On Me” 2.0 — but it is an opportunity for the members to let loose in a new way. There were opportunities for color, for life, and for the haze of reality to blend in to the hypnotically retro nature of the track. Instead, TXT have been left a very conventional presentation that highlights neither the members themselves, the choreography, nor their lore. It accomplishes little other than Big Hit showing off the sets they now have access to.

At the end of the day, TXT’s “Chasing That Feeling” is a comeback that is not enhanced by its MV, but rather is held back by it. Having watched the choreography live, I can attest that the members just dancing does a much better job of bringing the song to life than an overly dark MV on a Universal Studios set does. It’s a classic case of forgoing the energy of a track for mass-market Hollywood appeal, and that does TXT a great disservice — especially when this comeback has so much to offer to longtime and new fans alike.

(YouTube. Images via Big Hit Entertainment.)