Album Review: BTS Triumphs With ‘Map of the Soul: 7’

It feels like a disservice to refer to BTS as the biggest boyband in the world. BTS is arguably the biggest act in the world, period. With ever-expanding influence, record breaking tours, and sales that rival (and sometimes surpass) the likes of Adele and Taylor Swift, BTS has shown no signs of slowing down. On their last record, Map of the Soul: Persona, BTS delved into R&B and hip-hop, collaborated with Halsey on one of the best songs of 2019, and penned songs with Ed Sheeran. That record became their third #1 album in the U.S., surpassing a chart record previously held by none other than The Beatles. Now, with Map of the Soul: 7, the Bangtan Boys reflect on how far they have come with a grand testament to their collective and individual strength.

Big Hit

Map of the Soul: 7 functions as both a repackage and an expansion of the sonic world introduced by Map of the Soul: Persona. The album begins with five songs from Persona before transitioning into new music. “Black Swan” was the world’s first taste of new BTS music post-Persona (SUGA released a solo track preceding “Black Swan” titled “Interlude: Shadow,” a teaser for the new era). “Black Swan” is, in many ways, the antithesis of “Boy with Luv,” the cardinal song from Persona. Whereas the latter is bright and bouncy, the latter boasts a gloomier songs with lyrics that tackle the concept of fear. But 7 isn’t solely about fear and darkness, as many fans theorized pre-album release.

Many of 7‘s standout tracks appear in the middle of the tracklist. There’s “Louder Than Bombs,” a bombastic anthem co-written by Troye Sivan that covers how togetherness and the power of love and music can conquer any obstacle in life. It’s an absolutely incredible track and one of the best of the year so far. Everyone in the group gets their time to shine and reference their own solo tracks. The band’s latest single, “ON,” features an EDM riff that is reminiscent of J Balvin and Willy William’s “Mi Gente” and an explosive and euphoric chord progression. Jungkook also delivers what is the definitive vocal moment of the album on the bridge; he shows off his impressive range and precision with expert ease. A Sia-assisted version of “ON” is tacked on to the end of 7, but it simply cannot compare to the original and, quite frankly, brings down the overall quality of the album. There’s also the balls-to-the-wall energy on “UGH” a gorgeous showcase for the rap line’s talent that’s filled with gunshots, and “Respect,” a more 90s hip-hop influenced rap track anchored by RM and SUGA. “00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” is the de facto ballad on 7 and while it lacks the suave finesse of the ballads on Persona, the sincerity and passion still rings true. Finally, V’s solo track, “Inner Child” is a beautiful and emotional track about the singer’s past life before the fame and fortune; it’s a truly heartwarming moment on such a vast and sprawling album. The boys also dabble in afropop on the album closer, further adding to their commitment to the globalization and universal healing properties of music.

While the remainder of the tracks are weaker by comparison, they still offer incredible insights into the collective and individual psyches of one of the biggest global phenomenons in recent memory. BTS have truly come into their own as artists on Map of the Soul: 7; this is some of their best, most touching, and most ambitious work yet.

Key Track: “Louder Than Bombs”; “ON”; “Inner Child”; “00:00 (Zero O’Clock)”

Score: 81

9 Comments

  1. A fantastic article ! BTS are really starting to be considered as the biggest act in the world even tho they come from a small korean agency and that is amazing.

    The review was good and there is a real understanding of BTS’s work and intelligence, however, i don’t think the other songs in the album are any weaker. Personally, my favorite track is Interlude : Shadow, the song, lyrics and MV are pure genius. Filter is also a brilliant song, and We Are Bulletproof : The Eternal is such a touching track that is an echo of their past struggles and also a thank you to the people who supported them. I also love Outro : Ego, its joyful instrumental reminds me of a carnival and the message of self trust is amazing.

    BTS really are a fascinating group, both lyrically and musically. Their artistic universe is so unique, creative and provides deep messages. They are a band which will be remembered.

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  2. BTS❤❤❤
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    BTS PLEASE COME TO MOROCCO❤❤
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  3. The highlight on “Inner Child” is very interesting to me, it is definitely underrated right now. This isn’t the first critical acclaim for the song either, and has on many occasions been the only solo song highlighted by other editors/reviewers, too. It’s V’s, in his own words, “first bright solo track,” and a true feat & testament to his vocal abilities to have been sung with such ease. Amazingly enough, he has outdone himself not only here but in his subunit song Friends as well.

    Moreover, this isn’t V’s first critical acclaim for an official solo track either. “Intro: Singularity” is “Love Yourself: Tear”’s most critically-acclaimed solo, a song that fits his vocals very well & something only he can definitely do justice with.

    Overall a well-informed review & great choices for the key tracks. “Louder Than Bombs” and “Zero O’Clock” are on top of my list, too.

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