‘Map of the Soul: 7’ finds BTS at their most wistful, reflective, and self-aware
In introducing their latest and highly-anticipated album, Map of the Soul: 7, BTS leader RM often speaks of the importance of the number seven to the band: it represents the number of years since their debut, the number of members in the band, as well as an overall symbol of luck or jackpot.
It’s no surprise then that as a whole, there is an encompassing thread of nostalgic wistfulness that’s present all throughout Map of the Soul: 7, and indeed, many of the tracks’ lyrics feature stories directly taken from the band’s real-life past, from the R&B-influenced ‘My Time’ which features Jungkook, the band’s youngest member, reflecting on coming of age within the spotlight, to the playfully contemplative V-Jimin duet ‘Friends’, which chronicles the pair’s friendship and affection through their many years together. In the former, Jungkook’s vocals are as emotionally resonant as ever and give depth to the track’s sentimentality, while the latter makes good use of Jimin and V’s distinctively contrasting vocals to tell their story of unlikely companionship.
Each member gets his own solo outing in MOTS:7, and Jimin’s sultry vocals give life to ‘Filter’, the singular Latin-inspired track, while V and Jin offer some of the album’s sweetest lyrical moments with ‘Inner Child’ and ‘Moon’.
But the album isn’t all sentimentality, as the rap line’s tracks prove: the excellent ‘UGH!’ recalls the spitfire quality of the ‘Cypher’ series, while ‘Respect’ brings to mind BTS’ earliest social criticism themes a la ‘No More Dream’. Their solo outings — RM’s ‘Intro: Persona’, SUGA’s ‘Interlude: Shadow’, and J-Hope’s ‘Outro: Ego’ — are distinctive of each member’s personality, and anchor the Jungian narrative previously established in Map of the Soul: Persona (for consistency, 7 also includes five tracks from the album).
In all this, however, it is in their group tracks that BTS are at their best — standout ‘Louder than Bombs’ is an evocative ballad that might just be the pinnacle of their previous sonic experiments, and ‘00:00 (Zero o’ Clock)’ is an enchanting entry to the canon of the band’s signature ‘comfort’ songs (see: ‘Magic Shop’, ‘2!3!’, and ‘Answer: Love Myself’) as they assure listeners that ‘everything turns around’ at zero o’clock — the beginning of a new day. ‘We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal’ delivers an emotional high of stadium calibre, while ‘ON’ is a rallying cry of a song — if last year’s title track ‘Boy With Luv’ was candy-colored bubblegum-pop, ‘ON’ is the fighting clapback.
At its heart, Map of the Soul: 7 is earnest, nostalgic to a degree, and incredibly ambitious, but BTS have always been one to push further and tackle grandiose themes — whether it is of social criticism, self-love, or psychology subjects. If Map of the Soul: Persona put BTS on the map as K-Pop stars of worldwide calibre, Map of the Soul: 7 cements them as the mainstream artists they were always meant to be.
Originally published at https://share.snippetmedia.com.