“We need a day like this to escape from everyday life”
EXO’s last album release as a group was in 2019 with Obsession. The group made a comeback in 2021 after a wait of more than a year and a half with the special album Don’t Fight The Feeling. The teasers hinted at having connections to their 2016 repackage album Power. EXO was back in the retro video game themed room, and fans began spinning theories. The connection was felt, and rightly so, with the group decked up in a spaceship heading towards a yet-unknown location. In one of the concept photos from the ‘Parallel Universe’, Kai was even holding the comic from The War album, and that set the theory wheels turning faster.
The special album, which was released on June 7, 2021, is a celebration of a get-together long overdue. It ticked several boxes on the list, with Lay’s vocal and physical presence, to the group’s energetic get-together and also the mention of EXO-L at the end of the music video. It was truly emotional for the EXOLs to see the group back together, even with two members away at the moment. The eagerly awaited album clocked a record of 1.2 Million pre-order sales and the music video garnered 23.38Million views in 24 hours. The album also topped the iTunes charts in 85 countries, including India.
Here’s the album review for EXO’s Don’t Fight The Feeling.
Don’t Fight The Feeling
The title track of the album, Don’t Fight The Feeling finds the members on a futuristic voyage as they head towards a new dimension or a location in space. The members are partying their way to their new destination as they croon to the tunes of Don’t Fight The Feeling.
Don’t Fight the Feeling is the track that will inspire you, make you get up and dance. The trap beats during Sehun and Chanyeol’s rap comes as a small leeway in the energetic music. The title of the song is quite self-explanatory when it comes to it, but the lyrics that go “Don’t fight the feeling/Follow your instincts, babe/Don’t fight the feeling/Don’t even stop yourself” add in a power-packed punch.
The lyrics “Don’t be swept away/By the obstinate rational/Speed across KWANGYA” mention Kwangya, a location that is home to the Black Mamba, the antagonist in the Aespa Universe. Kwangya was also mentioned by NCT in one of their recent songs, and one cannot help but think if this one location will tie all the SM groups together and whether there is some future crossover in store.
The one with funk-pop music, Paradise is a track that speaks about the constant feeling of being in love. The acoustic tempo leads to a climactic chorus with alternate beats. The lyrics “I want to have you by my side no matter what/ I’m sorry but you’re already mine, all mine” paint a picture of a person who is enamoured in love. The elongated bridge is sung by the vocalists Xiumin and Baekhyun as they set the tone for the chorus. Baekhyun showcases a stellar falsetto and DO’s cute ‘Thank You’ brings the song to a conclusion.
No Matter (훅!)
With retro video game-like music at the beginning, No Matter echoes a fun respite from a strenuous everyday life. The Korean title of this song is an alliterative sound that roughly translates to ‘Whoop!’. The lyrics of the song say that the members will lead the listeners to a place where no one knows them. No Matter is a perfect ‘pick me up’ track to get jamming to, especially when it is so enticingly worded by Kai – “Wherever you want, wherever our feet leads us to/No matter what you do/Don’t be afraid/Oh-oh-oh-oh/We can leave in a flash.”
It wraps the promise of a wonderful time in a funky dance jam cover and reassures that taking a break is anything but normal. The catchy chorus serves as a good distraction, and even a passerby who hears the song once will catch hold of it. The purpose of the song was a promise and a distraction, and the group served it in one fell swoop.
The only R&B track from the album, Runaway is the anthem for those who want to embark on a new start. The refrain and the pre-chorus present a person who has become numb from suffering, but the psyche remembers the light and the freedom and embarks on a fight to attain it. The chorus of the song finds itself in an echo-like section. It feels like a beacon call for the people far and wide, for the idea of ‘Runaway’ to reach every nook and corner to the person who needs it. When Lay sings “I feel like I’ve been born again/It’s a fresh start for you and I” the song encourages and also takes the listener along to a new path.
Just As Usual (지켜줄게)
In 2014, the group gave us Promise and in 2021, Just As Usual. The one with acoustic pop music and EXO’s seamlessly blended vocals, Just As Usual is a healing track from the album. The Korean title translates to ‘I will protect you’. If you put the English and Korean titles in a line, you get ‘Just as usual, I will protect you’.
The harmony of percussion drums, along with the guitar creates a soothing melody that further deepens the impact of the lyrics. The group casts a soft light on the emotions of caring and understanding when they say “On days that aren’t like the rеst, filled with wounds/Please look at us.” The album concludes with Just As Usual, and one could not have asked for a perfect ending of a vibrant picture painted by EXO in this special album.
The special video for Just As Usual was a sweet surprise for the fans. The video showed the members practising the choreography for the title track, as well as recording and making their notes for the songs. The sextet was in its element of working back together, and it was laced with bittersweet nostalgia. Another thing that caught the fans’ attention was D.O. who was wearing rimless glasses. Those scenes with D.O. in glasses have a separate fanbase of their own.