In a V Live broadcast earlier this summer, EXO's Baekhyun stated that "Ko Ko Bop" was just a taste of what would come with the group's repackaged version of 'The War' album, setting expectations high. It turned out that he wasn't pulling our collective leg - EXO dropped 'The Power Of Music,' and it seemed like what was an already stellar album managed to grow and become even better. With 3 new songs including an addictively catchy title track, EXO returned from their reign as summer heroes to set the tone for autumn.
The title track for this release, "Power," is best consumed alongside its wonderfully weird space-age video. Continuing with the fun motif introduced by its teaser pictures and videos, which saw the EXO members reprising their roles as superheroes with special powers for the sake of a card game, the video shows a fun side of the group that we usually only get to see in variety show appearances. They act over-the-top and send laser beam shots flying at space enemies in what appears to be a dystopian video game world, and manage to make the whole process look a lot more fun than it is scary. The video is drenched in special effects, with all sorts of digital compositions taking the screen and making it feel like a futuristic experience (or at least the awesome B movie version of one). The plot twist towards the end of the video takes it from being simply good to a memorable surrealist piece, though it's something you really have to see for yourself to appreciate.
As for the actual music, "Power" sounds a little bit like what you'd expect from EXO at this point: thumping electro-house with a strong chorus, a beautiful and sensitive middle eight, and even the occasional wobble bass to keep the song moving. It's a different kind of flavor than what the group brought to the table on "Ko Ko Bop," with the tempo being much faster on this track and consequentially making for a more dance-ready listening experience. While the song is certainly fun thanks to its sing-along qualities, it's familiar ground for the group, now on its fourth album and showing little signs of breaking out from the contemporary K-Pop mold.
Outside of "Power," the repackage album contains two more new songs, "Sweet Lies" and "Boomerang." The former is perhaps one of the sexiest tracks EXO has done to date, working with the trappings of the R&Bass genre to create one of the steamiest songs in EXO's discography. This is a strong showing for label SM Entertainment, who have always been known for experimenting with different sounds for their major acts. Though the move might not have worked when all the members were much younger (and thusly younger-sounding), it's successfully pulled off here and adds a distinguishing touch to the album.
"Boomerang" is a fun throwback song, with a mix of disco and R&B vibes that gives listeners a good idea of what Bruno Mars would sound like as a chilled-out boy band. It's heavy on the synthesized bass, which makes it instantly danceable - just bust out your favorite shiny suit or medallion, and you'll be ready to go with this track.
As a whole, 'The Power of Music' is a suitable and enjoyable upgrade to the already-quality album that was 'The War.' EXO continues to grow in terms of being able to deliver mature sounding music, and even while their music videos take a turn to the fun side, they manage to pull off the juxtaposition without seeming corny or insincere. It was definitely a tough task to top "Ko Ko Bop," but the boys of EXO came with space-age inspiration to give it their best shot.
MV SCORE: 8
ALBUM SCORE: 9