The dawn of a new era...

K-pop septet BTS trade in their larger-than-life soundscapes and psychoanalytical concepts for something far simpler yet equally comforting on their fifth album 'BE'. With a universal message of upliftment that seeks bring some clarity into the chaos of 2020, the now- Grammy-nominated supergroup indicate the dawn of a new era with their latest.

Opening with introspective stylings of lead single 'Life Goes On', the band delves into their hopes for the future in an uncertain world as they address the effects of the COVID-19 on their own plans. The stripped- back offering swerves into a less-explored folksy production that doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the band’s previous outings, but its’ theme of recognising and drawing from inner strength during hard times is exactly what the band’s fans need to hear from them.

There are heart-warming helpings of hope throughout the eight-track record, whether on 'Fly To My Room' featuring only four of the seven members – Suga, J-hope, Jimin and V – where they encourage people to focus on the bright side during these difficult times. They keep the mood light on the funky, clever 'Telepathy', which delves into the connection of human hearts and minds despite physical distance.

As artists who have fashioned themselves as advocates of mental health delving into depression, self-love and imposter syndrome among other stigmatised topics. BTS don’t shy away from acknowledging that nothing is ideal as it is – not for them, not for anyone. On tender ballad 'Blue & Grey', the band pleads for happiness as they fall back into their penchant for intellect by using colours to represent depression and anxiety.

Coming in as an intermission is a skit which reveals the group’s genuine excitement to scoring their first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper with 'Dynamite' in August. For their die-hard fanbase which celebrates every achievement with the same, if not more enthusiasm as the group itself, this skit is one that sits snugly in the most emotional corners of their hearts. However, for a casual listener this is an entirely skippable interlude before the quickly approaching end of the album.

For the final stretch, BTS mostly abandons the contemplative vibe as they make use of catchy slices of vintage hip-hop on fearlessly transparent 'Dis-ease' which urges everyone to move forward, before the EDM stylings of final new song 'Stay' reminds fans sweetly they’ll always be with them no matter how far away them may seem. With creative lyricism which sees the band reference how technology binds them together with listeners, the album gives way to celebration with 'Dynamite'.

'BE' is on-brand for the band who have always recognised hardships but never left things without a resolution of healing, however, everything about the album feels like a gift to their fans rather than a passer-by listening in. From the skit to the music video for acoustic-tinged 'Life Goes On' - which showcases a pyjama-clad septet before transitioning into them singing in an empty arena - the album doesn’t quite catch-on in the same way that most are used to when they think of BTS.

No, it may not necessarily have many outside their core fanbase reaching endlessly for the replay button, but its therapeutic nonetheless as the band delivers what they’ve promised ; a personable, relatable collection of tracks that strip away their blinding shine as idols, replacing it with their warm glow of humanity.

7/10

Words: Malvika Padin

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