by Zessa Ghaisani

EXO made a decent comeback last month after a long anticipated period—for a K-Pop group, having no album release for more than a year is considered very long, since most K-Pop groups can have more than 1 album release each year. Their 5th album, called “Don’t Mess Up My Tempo” showed their strong vocals ability—thanks to SM Entertainment’s strong training in vocals. Overall, the album itself doesn’t disappoint.

The album opens with “Tempo”, which also serves as their main single. Chen’s shout in the intro is very captivating. The ‘bed squeaks’ sound sample may sound weird at first, but I guess that’s one of the song’s highlight, apart from the acapella bridge that may make you go “wow”. The part when Kai’s start chanting “don’t mess up my tempo” will bring you back to the late 90s RnB songs’ vibe. It later continues to the second track, “Sign”. I used to be an *NSYNC fan, and this song reminds me alot to them. The infectious yet catchy “sign, sign, sign” and “lie, lie, lie” really reminds me of *NSYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye”. The third track, “Ooh La La La” will bring us to the beach—it really gives us the beach’s vibe. It has no outstanding variation, however. The note stands flat but the sexy guitar strums in the background that stays from the beginning to the end of the song will make you stay though.

Next we will hear a Daft Punk-ish song called “Gravity”. Produced by LDN Noise, the song may remind you a bit of “Power”—which they also produced, but the more you listen to the song, the more difference you’ll get. The rap line did a group job and to be honest I didn’t expect the rap part to be that long—but thank you for making it like that, it was really nice! “With You” is our next song in the album. It gives a soft and dreamy vibe, a bit sounds electronic-ish but still keeping that dreamy vibe. Next is my favorite, “24/7”—which I can listen to for 24/7—I’m not even kidding. The soft finger snaps and whistles give a chill and dreamy vibe like the previous track, and the falsetto! They sing in falsetto and their harmonization is no joke which shouldn’t surprise anyone since we all know they’re kings of harmony.

“Bad Dream” is the album’s most R&B-ish track, and everyone knows EXO had always done well in R&B tracks and yep, “Bad Dream” is a perfect R&B track with catchy guitar strums and Chanyeol’s low husky voice in the beginning will captivate you. After the chilly “Bad Dream”, the synthesizers intro and thumping bass beats from “Damage” will most likely stun you. Starts with rap verse, and a reggae-like beat unlike any other EXO’s songs. “Smile on My Face” is perhaps the only slow-tempo song that was supposed to be a ballad in the album. Telling a story of how someone still tries to smile despite the bad things that are happening. Even though their vocals are strong, but I must admit that “Smile On My Face” is not EXO’s best ballad songs—especially if it’s compared to their previous ballad releases.

The album closes with “Oasis”, an urban pop song that its producer, MARZ Music, described as something that fans of “The Eve” will like. The song, however, tells how EXO’s members determined to face difficulties in claiming their success.

Listening to the whole “Don’t Mess Up My Tempo” album felt very short but memorable. Some of the songs’ catchiest part will stay in your head. The album also highlights EXO’s versatility in their musical style. EXO can pull anything, from slow ballads acapella, to a club-worthy song. And none of them were flawed, we even get to hear Sehun’s singing voice which was rare to be heard in their previous releases. To put it in simpler words, they were messing with their own tempo while keeping themselves stay in their pace. With this album, it is also clear that no one could beat their specialty in harmonizing. EXO is surely marking their territory in the K-Pop industry as one of the best K-Pop group to exists in this era.

Overall rating : 8 out of 10

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