10 October 2019

The 12-member boy group EXO has finally released their first full-length album, “XOXO.” It was certainly worth the year-long wait fans had to endure.

Released in June, “XOXO” comes in two versions: the Kiss version (in Korean) and the Hug version (in Mandarin). A photobook with pictures of the group members comes with each edition. The 60 pages of yearbook-style snapshots fit with the album’s high-school theme.

The first track – also the most heavily promoted – is “Wolf,” a song with a powerful mix of dubstep and hip-hop in which each member gets a chance to showcase his vocal strengths. The only major flaw, other than a nasally chant of “ah, sarangheyo” (“ah, I love you”) in the chorus, is the English. Because there is no “wo” sound in Korean, the word “wolf” sounds like “oolf.”

In addition, the English lyrics are a little unusual, with one line translating to “I’ll take you in one mouthful like cheese.” The strongest part of the song makes up for it, however. In the chorus, band members Baekhyun and Chen seamlessly blend their voices as they hit an outstanding high note which is sure to give listeners chills.

I think “My Lady” is the greatest track on the album, with outstanding instrumentals, powerful vocals, and a smooth rap section in the middle. “Baby, Don’t Cry,” however, proves to be the best showcase for the singers’ talents.

Tracks that aren’t stand-outs include “Baby” and “Don’t Go,” which have generic slow pop tempos and light vocals. Other noteworthy tracks are “Black Pearl,” with an undertone of dubstep and explosive rapping and singing; “3.6.5,” a light and cheery song that will keep people bopping; and “Let Out the Beast,” which doesn’t leave listeners behind during its rapid verses.

Within the first week of its release, “XOXO” sold 300,000 copies around the world. The group won their first award on the music show “Music Bank” with “Wolf,” and continued to win three others. When they released the repackaged version of the album in August, the new promoted track “Growl” won 14 consecutive music show awards.

Despite debuting a year ago, EXO has climbed to record-breaking heights that show they will be staying in the business for years to come. You’ll find them growling through your headphones and into your heart if you decide to give this wonderful album a listen.

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