9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)
Can't We Just Leave the Monster Alive?
Angel or Devil
Expectations are high for most K-pop debutantes, but when you’re Big Hit Entertainment’s junior boy band (the senior one being BTS), they are outsized. Yet TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s explosive March 2019 debut EP The Dream Chapter: STAR captivated with great songs, dazzling videos, and youthful, magnetic energy. On their eight-song debut album The Dream Chapter: MAGIC, the Seoul quintet of Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Soobin, Taehyun, and Huening Kai make the leap from boys to young men.
The songs here rely more on cerebral synth-pop than the hip-hop bops that ruled STAR. The album opener “New Rules” is rooted in dance music with its exhilarating bassline and “Let me go” chants. “Roller Coaster” and the Harry Potter-referencing “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)” are sculpted pop brushed with a touch of whimsy. “Magic Island” and “20cm” form the album’s emotional core through a fantasy wish and a slow jam—showcasing the group’s range. BTS producers and allies like Supreme Boi, Slow Rabbit, DJ Swivel, and Swedish duo Daniel Caesar and Ludwig Lindell contribute; Melanie Joy Fontana (who co-wrote BTS’s “Euphoria” and “Boy With Luv”) has songwriting credits here, including on the similarly majestic “Can’t We Just Leave the Monster Alive?” Remnants of TXT’s carbonated past bubble up on “Angel or Devil” and “Poppin’ Star,” but MAGIC feels light years away from STAR. As in life, kids grow up fast, and The Dream Chapter: MAGIC captures TXT’s evolution already in motion.