map of the soul album cover

BTS – Map of The Soul: Persona (Album Review)

If you ever needed proof that music is about so much more than just lyrics, BTS are living examples of that. With a worldwide following (many of whom don’t even speak Korean) it is clear that the emotion, passion and impact of their music is about so much more than just words.

Each day, more and more people seem the fall under the spell of their seemingly never-ending charisma, genre blending sound and intense energetic choreography. The seven south Korean boys have broken numerous records, have sold out stadiums and haven’t had a second of rest since their debut in 2013. So, when it was announced they had a new album coming out, the world waited with baited breath.

It had a lot of anticipation and expectations riding on it, and it is safe to say Map of the Soul: Persona has exceeded all of them.

From the hip-hop-hard-hitting title track, PERSONA, the album has you hooked. RM’s rhythm and delivery of this solo song are so powerful, that even before you look up the lyric translation, you know it’s personal. Once you do dive into what the lyrics mean, it’s almost like unlocking an internal monologue into RM’s soul, full of questions of self-worth and identity.

The second track on the album, Boy With Luv has proven the boy’s international success, breaking global records and seeing performances at SNL and soon, the BBMAS, and it is not hard to see why.

The sugary-sweet pop song features harmonies from Halsey that sound like they were made for each-other, which is something  so warming, it is bound to be one of 2019’s songs of the summer.

But it isn’t all bubbly pop, each member of BTS’s rap-line gets his moment to shine in the track, with a highlight being the members Suga and J-Hope’s seamless transition between vocals. Moments like this truly show that every second of the song has been thought through, and highlights each members individual talent.

Mikrokosmos is the perfect example of the world BTS have created around themselves. Previous songs such as Magic Shop talk of alternate universes and places where people can find refuge when they need it, and Mikrokosmos plays into that. With lyrics such as “One history in one person/One star in one person/7 billion different worlds” hinting at the idea that each person has a universe inside of them, it is easy to see how you can get caught up deeply in theories, and escapism which is such a strong part of this music.

The fact that BTS’s personal touch is what makes them stand out so much as an exciting act might be why when this touch is less evident, such as in the Ed Sheeran written Make It Right, the tracks feel slightly lacking. While the vocal strength is still there and the song is as catchy as you’d expect it to be, Sheeran’s impact is still audible, which takes away from the unique sound of the boys themselves. Though, to boast working with a man who has made such a name for his self in the industry, perhaps it is worth it.

However, the stand-out track of the album is the finishing one, Dionysus. Completely avoiding the cheerful pop vibe, this is a track that came to conquer. Full of the power from earlier albums such as Dark & Wild, the song is stacked full of rap, falsetto and backing vocals of ‘ayooo’ that build and build into a climax that, if you’re familiar with BTS’s live performance, is sure to be something spectacular. Even listening to it in the comfort of your own home, RM uttering “Are you ready for this?” is enough to get your blood pumping faster, and a sweat forming, so to see what the band have planned for the stage show is almost unbearable.

It is hard to imagine that BTS can actually get any bigger, but if this album proves anything, it is that we are only scraping the tip of their potential. With global domination already within their grasp, and western artists climbing over each other to get a piece of the action, it is going to be exciting to see what 2019 brings them next.

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