It’s been a long time coming for EXO-Ls and all K-Pop fans. After mandatory military service, chaotic schedules from the members, a mini EP and a global pandemic all spanning since the release of their sixth album in November 2019, EXO is back with their seventh studio album, “EXIST,” which was released this past July.
Despite it being less than 30 minutes long, EXO dazzles with nine unique tracks that capture the upbeat energy that they often bring to the table. Listening to it makes me feel like I’m with an old friend, talking and hanging out together as if no time has passed. And even if you’re not a K-Pop fan, there’s still something you will like like the smooth ballad “Let Me In,” with soothing vocals and lyrics comparing the singer’s lover to the ocean.
The title track, “Cream Soda,” captures you instantly with Baekhyun’s addicting vocals and a catchy beat in the background. He passes the mic to Suho before the main melody kicks in. Like with many of EXO’s songs, my favorite part is the bridge before the final chorus. Four of the eight members serenade the listener with their addicting vocals and subtle melodies in the background right before Chen hits us with a high note as everyone else sings the final chorus.
My personal favorite of the bunch is the eighth track, “Another Day.” This was the track that caught my ear instantly during my first listen of the album, and the song that I often hum to myself. It is a bit more mellow and vocal-heavy than “Cream Soda,” but the subtle instrumentals work very well with the members’ vocals. I love Chanyeol and Sehun’s rap, especially the final “I’m good” before the final chorus, where the instrumental goes silent for a moment before jumping right back in.
EXO is masterful with their craft, having been in the game since 2012. And despite the large time gap between albums, it still feels like home listening to the members sing.