Review Summary: 21: Map of the Bloat
Whether you like it or not, BTS
. They've arguably reached popularity heights that haven't been reached since One Direction took the tweeny-bopper world by storm nearly a decade ago, and with the amount of money their label dumps into putting them everywhere combined with the help of the quite frankly rabid stans that will not be discussed further, it's safe to say that they're gonna be here for a long time. Now for the real question: is Map of the Soul: 7
a left onto Victory Lane, or a right onto the boulevard of broken dreams?
The safe answer would be neither—Map of the Soul: 7
, at it's core, is an extremely generic k-pop record. Everything is layered on top of polished synths and programmed drum machines, while the singers both sing and rap what typical Korean boy band lyrics over them. Both the singing and rapping are competent enough, and to their credit there are admittedly some pretty catchy numbers on here such as "Dionysus" and "Black Swan". Unfortunately, you're gonna need some good patience to get to the best parts, as the album opens with a middling two-minute
intro track that segues into "Boy With Luv", which ends up primarily serving as additional proof that guest singer Halsey
ruins everything she touches. The vast majority of the remainder of the album comprises of standard dime-a-dozen k-pop tracks.
The fact that Map of the Soul: 7
is largely generic is why it ultimately falls into the trap of failure—at a whopping 21 songs
, there is a hell of a lot of filler to be found, mostly in the second half—the interlude is overly long and goes absolutely nowhere, "UGH!" is a failed experiment in both SoundCloud rap and Post Malone worship, while a middling remix of "ON" featuring Sia (something that should've either been released stand-alone or in a deluxe edition) closes out the album (despite the outro coming literally right before it) for the sole purpose of squeezing in as much music as they could get away with.
Considering that this is a pop album, production is obviously a heavy focus and Map of the Soul: 7
is extremely clean and smooth, albiet heavily compressed. Fortunately, however, the mixing was done fairly well—all instruments get a chance to breathe and basslines are completely audible, which is always extremely welcome. But at the end of the day, Map of the Soul: 7
is nothing to write home about. It's your standard k-pop album with the glaring problem of bloat; you can get a decent k-pop album with not-so-glaring issues in many other places.