Boy bands have historically been better remembered for their chart-crowding singles than their albums. Despite this, however, albums like *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached, Backstreet Boys’ Millennium and One Direction’s Midnight Memories are among the best-selling albums of their respective eras.
In light of this, the release of a new BTS album is a massive event. And last week the K-pop/hip hop collective released their fourth album, Map of the Soul: 7. Let’s take a look at some of the critical feedback for 7.
Watch: BTS – Black Swan
The Line of Best Fit‘s Sophia Simon-Bashall showered the album in praise in a 10/10 review. The review highlighted the album’s exploration of emo-tinged rap, latin-pop, and the mixture of modern trap beats with traditional Korean instruments.
Stereogum published a similarly complimentary review, saying that 7 “covers an impressive amount of stylistic territory throughout its 20-track sprawl.” The review also declared BTS to be the South Korean Beatles, with 7 their answer to the White Album.
Consequence of Sound were another outlet that liked what they heard on 7. The album received a B+ rating, with kudos going to the band’s lyrics and vocal performances. The review was critical of the Ed Sheeran-penned ‘Make It Right’, however, and questioned some of the production choices.
Watch: BTS talk ‘Map of the Soul: 7’
Rolling Stone gave the record four stars, again praising its stylistic breadth. “Map of the Soul: 7 is their most smashing album yet,” said RS reviewer Rob Sheffield. “[It reveals] their mastery of different pop styles from rap bangers to slow-dance ballads to post-Swedish electro-disco to prog-style philosophising.”
Pitchfork weren’t quite so forthcoming with praise. Giving the album 6.3 out of 10, Sheldon Pearce called it “unnecessarily drawn-out, jumbled, and uneven.” Pearce also noted the stylistic diversity, but said that in the attempt to “placate every type of BTS fan 7 sacrifices what’s most effective about the unit.”
So what can we takeaway from this? BTS aren’t making throwaway music simply to uphold their public profile. They’ve produced a sprawling, 20-song album that covers a heck of a lot of styles and subject matter.
With any project of this length there’s going to be questions about whether it would’ve benefited from slimming down. For the most part, though, critics are lapping up Map of the Soul: 7.