On their fifth album Don’t Mess Up My Tempo, K-pop superstars EXO hit us again with a cannon of concise pop songs, reminding us why they are so popular, after a handful of solo ventures and their CBX collaboration earlier this year.
Tempo and Sign start the album energetically with buzzing synth lines, prominent repetitive gang vocals, a cappella sections, and more instrumental changes than their wardrobe changes during a live show.
But from here, the album gets a lot more interesting, as each member gets their own time in the spotlight. The very mellow With You has a calming electronica feel, as Baek-hyun takes centre stage, warmly delivering a poetic love song. Smile On My Face maintains this relaxed approach, and feels like a classic dreamy K-pop ballad, and really shows EXO at their most consistent and comfortable.
Ooh La La is the best moment on the record though with its retro Latin and Caribbean-inspired jam. The nine-piece really gels on closer Oasis with the big chorus singalong, showing a band that’s building quite a compelling catalogue.