When you’re young, friendships and relationships feel like they’ll last forever. If you’re lucky, perhaps they will, but life has a habit of getting in the way. That’s where ‘Eternity’ – the third instalment of ‘The Dream Chapter’ series – finds Tomorrow X Together, one of Korea’s most promising young pop groups.
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Their previous two chapters ‘Star’ and ‘Magic’, both released last year, embodied the limitless imagination of youth, but here the five-piece are beginning to face reality. Life might be golden in the dream-space of the magic island they referenced on October’s ‘Magic’, but out here in the real world, it’s a lot tougher. Given that fall outs with friends and break-ups can feel so world-shakingly intense the first few times you go through them, it’s no surprise TXT portray things in such extreme terms. On the trap-tinged gentle pop of ‘Can’t You See Me?’, they compare conflict with their mates to “the fire that dances at the end of the world”.
Just because TXT are getting real here, it doesn’t mean they’ve lost their inventive spark. Where ‘Star’’s ‘Cat And Dog’ had them wishing to become household pets, on ‘PUMA’ they compare themselves to the titular animal, on whom they projects feelings of fear and isolation. “The world I met is alien,” sighs Huening Kai over thudding hip-hop beats. “Nobody welcomes me.”
‘Eternally’ chops and changes from soft and sparse pop to zipping, urgent R&B and back again, leader Soobin bookending the switches with a warning: “Don’t go breaking my heart.” ‘Drama’ delves into horn-laced funk-pop, while the aforementioned ‘Can’t You See Me?’ is a subtly experimental masterpiece, its supremely catchy melodies contrasted with darkly bubbling submarine vocal effects that lend proceedings and air of ominousness. No wonder – when the magic island is referenced again, it’s no longer a sanctuary but “abandoned”, deserted by friends who “don’t understand me any more.”
Before ‘Eternity’, TXT had only one songwriting credit to their name (youngest member Huening Kai co-wrote ‘Magic”s ‘Rollercoaster’), but here they’re showing more of their skills. Rapper Yeonjun wrote his own verse for their remake of Light And Salt’s ‘90s city-pop jam ‘Fairy Of Shampoo’. It’s brief but helps to lift the track into dreamier territory.
Throughout their first year together (they celebrated their anniversary in March), the group expressed their desire to write their own songs and be heavily involved in the creative process. They get their first full-band collaboration here in the acoustic strum of ‘Maze In The Mirror’. It’s a decent start. Musically, it’s less exciting than the songs around it, but its lyrics beautifully capture the band’s anxieties before they debuted. “I want to fly now / Like Peter Pan flying forever,” sings Taehyun.
Until now, TXT’s output has mostly been bright, breezy and blissfully free from life’s worries, focusing more on fantasy and fun. Taking a different tact, though, has left them with an EP that is, for the most part, enriched by its embrace of the clashes we all go through. This marks another step up for a group consistently coming good on their potential.
Label: Big Hit Entertainment
Release date: May 18, 2020