Tomorrow X Together are in their rock star era. After launching May’s ‘The Chaos Chapter: Freeze’ with the angsty emo of ‘0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)’, the repackaged version of that record sees them leaning even further into that attitude. ‘The Chaos Chapter: Fight Or Escape’ adds two new songs and a new version of ‘Freeze’’s title track, which for the most part lead TXT deeper into a world of riffs and growled sentiments.
- READ MORE: Tomorrow X Together – ‘The Chaos Chapter: Freeze’ review: K-pop’s fourth gen leaders find love in a hopeless place
‘LO$ER=LO♡ER’ picks up where ‘0X1=LOVESONG’ left off, its driving guitar melody (played on an instrument that once belonged to The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards) and expletive-filled lyrics masking the song’s more romantic layers. The song’s concept lies in its loser’s “desire to be a hero” – or a lover – to their soulmate and its lyrics shine a light on the importance the group place on love. “My hand clutching yours, it’s all banged up / It doesn’t matter when I’m with you,” Soobin sings at one point. “This life like a war, I’m always the loser,” Yeonjun adds later. “You were my saviour.”
At the other end of ‘Fight Or Escape’ comes a new take on ‘0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)’, the Seori-featuring gem from ‘Freeze’. Dubbed the “emocore mix”, the track turns its guitars up to 11 and adds noodling solos to its layers. While the revamp doesn’t drastically change the song or shine new light on its meaning, it does amp up the angst but in a way that doesn’t risk turning things into a caricature of themselves.
Though, not every new addition to this repackaged version of ‘Freeze’ does dip into the band’s darker side. ‘MOA Diary (Dubbadu Wari Wari)’, which slots into the tracklist between ‘No Rules’ and ‘Dear Sputnik’, channels the bright buoyancy of ‘Magic’. A tribute to TXT’s fandom – who are called MOA – and written by the band themselves, it repays the strength and healing they get from their listeners in touching sentiments that highlight the bond between the two parties. “Remember the day we first met / TXT’s only Little Mermaid,” Beomgyu sings with a wink, his reference just one of many “secret codes” the five-piece have woven into the track. ‘Dubbadu’ itself is also a semi-cryptic nod to one of MOA’s names for the group.
Musically, the track goes in search of something far lighter than the other new songs on the record and finds it in gleaming disco-pop. It’s infectiously positive, its flurries of synthesised strings and “MOA MOA! MOA MOA!” ad libs bringing bursts of joy to the composition. It’s only disappointment is its quite obvious similarities to BTS’ ‘Permission To Dance’ – TXT have worked hard to craft their own distinct character that’s unique from their labelmates and it’s a little frustrating that, sonically, such a special song isn’t allowed to carve out its own space too.
‘The Chaos Chapter: Freeze’ was a flawless record and it was always going to be difficult for this new material to match up. It doesn’t flounder, with each of the three additions putting up a good fight to equal ‘Freeze’’s high quality. But ‘LO$ER=LO♡ER’ lands just short of the original album’s rockier cuts while the new version of ‘0X1=LOVESONG’ is fun but not vital. Still, ‘The Chaos Chapter: Fight Or Escape’ finds TXT continuing to grow and explore everything they’re capable of with some brilliant, exhilarating results.
- Release date: August 17
- Record label: Big Hit Music, Republic Records