EXO Says Don’t Mess Up My Tempo in 5th Studio Album
After over a year-long wait and much anticipation, EXO has returned with their fifth studio album Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. Consisting of 11 new tracks, fans are in for a treat with new songs to jam out to!
“Don’t Mess Up My Tempo”
At long last, EXO is back with a new song that is addictive and fun. Their latest title track “Tempo” is a cross between R&B and pop that will get fans on their feet, dancing along to this smooth track. Right from the get-go Chen’s vocals will bring goosebumps before the lead up to the catchy “Don’t Mess Up My Tempo” lyric that will most likely be stuck in listeners’ heads. “Don’t Mess Up My Tempo” brings elements of funk and electronic into the song to give it that trendy and nostalgic ‘90s vibe. Just when you thought that EXO has outdone themselves from the sound to the vocals, they switch it up by bringing an acapella verse that leads into the last chorus and will bring chills down your spine. It is without a doubt that EXO took their time in carefully choosing the right song to promote and it is nothing less than perfection.
EXO-L’s rejoice as we finally have Lay joining the rest of the members after quite some time in the music video and title track! The last time Lay appeared on an album was during the group’s “Monster” era. It truly is great to see all the members of EXO together again after such a long time. All nine members appear in both music videos (as per EXO tradition, they have released both a Korean and a Chinese version of “Tempo”) and fans are taken down another trip into understanding the supernatural world of EXO Planet. The overall concept of the album and the music video is a biker gang concept. More of the concept of the album will be discussed ahead, but the music video does feature the members either riding or with the motorcycles. EXO never fails to also feature their amazing fashion sense as well, which is showcased throughout the music video. Aside from the artistic aesthetic from the fashion and the concept, EXO also brings out the smooth and sleek choreography that we all know and love from the group. Nonetheless, EXO surpasses expectations and manages to outdo their previous comeback with another solid title track and music video.
As previously mentioned, the concept that EXO was going for was a biker gang theme, and all of the songs correspond to different times and feelings for whenever you are out on a drive. Before jumping into the full review of the album, it should be noted that the album includes a Chinese version of “Tempo,” where you can hear more of Lay throughout the song. In total, aside from the title track and its two versions, Don’t Mess Up My Tempo offers nine brand new songs to add to the EXO library.
When EXO released teasers before the official album drop, each member had their own individual teaser that also corresponded to a song. First up was “Sign,” which is a dark, gritty EDM track, which accompanied Chanyeol’s teaser. As Chanyeol’s ability is fire, it makes sense that “Sign” falls in line with the same vibes as “Monster” and “Transformer.” This isn’t a happy or bright song; however, it still draws you in and gets you moving along. “Sign” ignites this tougher and harder feel that is an extra confidence booster. It is a track that you can definitely visualize someone riding on a motorcycle or in a really nice (and fast) luxury car, looking magnificently laid-back.
“Ooh La La La” has a hint of Latin vibes mixed into this R&B track. It definitely is a sexy, smooth song which can inspire a lot of body rolling to happen. There is this mysterious vibe as well that pulls the listener in and allows EXO to get a firm grip on them. “Ooh La La La” was accompanied by Kai’s individual teaser, which is no surprise as he does have this air of mystery around him that leaves one curious to know what he’s hiding behind the mask that is Kai. “Ooh La La La” is the perfect match for those chill, long drives to an unknown destination filled with adventures. “Gravity” is the next track, taking on a ‘70s/‘80s electro-disco vibe. Going out for a night on the town? “Gravity” is the song for you to put on while driving with your close friends. “Gravity” also corresponded to D.O’s teaser.
“With You” (which was teased in Baekhyun’s teaser) is another upbeat, EDM-based song with hints of R&B sprinkled in. What makes “With You” stick out amongst the rest of the album is the light and airy feeling this song has. You’ll find yourself especially weak in the knees whenever Chen or Baekhyun hit those falsetto high notes. “24/7” (associated with Xiumin’s teaser video) follows up with another EDM-R&B song that is all about thinking about that special person. It’s a song that one can groove to and lie back to while getting work done. The whistle portion is definitely what piques your interest in the song. You know that EXO is going to bring another slow jam which they flawlessly execute.
“Bad Dream” (corresponding with Sehun) is a song that throws listeners for a loop. At first you may think this would be an acoustic ballad, but it takes a different yet pleasant turn as the acoustics leave and we are introduced to another chill, electro-based sound. There are still acoustic elements within the song, but the gem is the electronic sound. “Bad Dream” is very different compared to the rest of the songs as it explores a sound we are not used to seeing the group play around with often. “Damage” is the next track, which picks the pace back up and gives us another gritty and hard-hitting song. Like Chen’s superpower of lightning, “Damage” is another electrifying and hot track that one will enjoy jamming out to.
Closing out the album are the last two tracks! Second to last is “Smile On My Face” which was teased in Lay’s individual teaser. As Lay has the superpower of healing, “Smile On My Face” is the true ballad off the album. “Smile On My Face” is easy-going and soft, which will literally bring a smile to your face. It’s the type of song to play if you find yourself wanting to drift off during long car rides (as the passenger, not the driver!). Last but certainly not least is “Oasis,” which is another R&B track that was first introduced in Suho’s teaser video. When you think of an oasis, one of the first things that comes to mind is water, which fits perfectly with Suho as his superpower is water. “Oasis” is one of the more somber and emotional songs, but it still ends the album on a good note as it showcases their impressive vocal abilities as well as their versatility with their song selection.
All in all, EXO has once again delivered a solid, high-quality album! It surely has been such a long time since their last comeback, but it is definitely good to see the group actively promoting once again. Congratulations to EXO on another comeback!
Music Video: 9/10
Title Track: 10/10
Overall Rating: 9.7/10