Album Review: EXO – The War

Release Date: July 18, 2017


  1. 전야 (前夜) (The Eve)
  2. Ko Ko Bop
  3. What U do?
  4. Forever
  5. 다이아몬드 (Diamond)
  6. 너의 손짓 (Touch It)
  7. 소름 (Chill)
  8. 기억을 걷는 밤 (Walk On Memories)
  9. 내가 미쳐 (Going Crazy)

Total Runtime: 00:31:26

Recommended for: EXO-L, and K-Pop’s usual day to day customers.

NOT recommended for: those who never find reggae to their liking, former members’ fans. Also, those who only listen to the title track (yes they exist).

EXO is back with their fourth (4th) full length album ‘The War’, as a part of SM Entertainment’s summer onslaught plan. This time, the octet (Lay is not participating for this comeback) opted for a reggae pop track ‘Ko Ko Bop’ as the album’s title track. The album consists of nine (9) new tracks.

Track Review:

Track 1 – 전야 (前夜) (The Eve)

The Eve is a quick reminder of just how much Western music scenes in late 90s to early 2000s have influenced EXO’s ever expanding discography. Coincidentally, that era was one of the best and The Eve amplifies such a statement. EXO is no stranger when it comes to providing an excellent chorus in a song and this track is a good example to be used as a counter-argument. A marvelous welcoming track. Sadly, the verses in The Eve offer nothing special and are fairly bland. Yet, it is easily my favourite track from this album.


Track 2 – Ko Ko Bop

The War’s title track, Ko Ko Bop is a reggae influenced pop song meant to liven up our supposedly uneventful summer. It failed to do so because Ko Ko Bop is easily one of EXO’s most underwhelming track ever produced. The song sounded promising in the teaser but somehow the final product ended up being too chill and lacking in many key areas. Ko Ko Bop is lacking core substances like a bridge and a hook whilst suffering from overproduction. The substances are conveyed in a very confusing arrangement, from the beats to the drops as well as being overproduced to make matters worse. I already listened to this song multiple times and still can’t find a common ground. The verses are made short to compensate longer drops which in my opinion is unnecessary. My expectation is usually low but Ko Ko Bop is terrifically disappointing. It’s not easy to achieve a good mixture of reggae and pop while incorporating dance and image factors. Kudos to them for experimenting and trying something new. Despite the downfalls, Ko Ko Bop has a pretty catchy chorus. Again, the chorus is the saving grace. Sigh.


Track 3 – What U do?

K-Pop (especially SM) really loves bringing me back to the 90s, to my fondness. With modern touches and extra exo-flavours, What U do? is a great mid-tempo pop track to sing along especially with friends. But if you’re too shy for that or just simply don’t have one, solos are cool too. What matters the most is what you will do to have fun and enjoy yourself.


Track 4 – Forever

I’m not going to mention 90s and 2000s again and again. If this album was released back then, no one would bat an eye. That is until Chanyeol raps. His rap is always a hit or miss for me so I will just leave it at that. The verses in Forever left a good impression on me, and that intensified my anticipation for the chorus. The chorus is a definite triple a. At this point, Ko Ko Bop is already long forgotten.


Track 5 – 다이아몬드 (Diamond)

The first beat in Diamond frightened me. A glimpse of Produce 101 Season 2’s Pick Me was there, a tad. Nonetheless, the track assimilate a tinge of EDM to make it less paint-by-number. Being a generic pop song, extra ingredients are warmly welcomed. The melody is influenced by Middle-Eastern music. Pretty slick I tell you.


Track 6 – 너의 손짓 (Touch It)

A blend of funk and new jack swing, done right. Touch It is a gold groovy track. Notwithstanding its simplicity, Touch It will keep you going whilst feeling the cool beats. The vocals are great and I praise its clarity, highlighted by  the accompanying backing vocals and neat ad-libs.


Track 7 – 소름 (Chill)

Nothing can go wrong if a song starts with a retro 8-bit sample, right? A nifty reminiscence. Chill is.. well chill. They didn’t go too hard on any parts, everything is monotonous but not to the point of annoyance. The sudden beat drop meant to prepare a platform for rap parts is sorely needed to avoid a tedious listening experience.


Track 8 – 기억을 걷는 밤 (Walk On Memories)

Every good K-Pop album needs slow tempo songs, and EXO is no anomaly. Walk on Memories is a well crafted boy band esque pop song that utilizes the members’ vocals fittingly. The chorus has one of the most beautiful vocal harmonization I’ve ever heard from a boy group. Legacy boy bands like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC would be very proud of them. I simply love it!


Track 9 – 내가 미쳐 (Going Crazy)

If you need a perfect closing after The War’s journey has ended, Going Crazy is here to prove its worth and it can’t get any better. The instrumental is breathtaking and will makes you overflow with adrenaline and endorphin. It makes you move, it will move you, and the song itself is immovable. I’m out of superlatives here to describe just how apposite this song to end the my war with Ko Ko Bop (pun intended). I’m a joyful person once again.



Review overview
Summary Not their best album but kudos for the effort to try new stuffs, It's good to see how your music and style progress as time goes by, changes can be nice. Ko Ko Bop however is a weak title track by EXO's high standard and is not able to justify the hype tag. Thankfully, the album is saved by its stellar b-side tracks such as The Eve, Forever, and Going Crazy. For casual listener like me, the album is good but definitely could be better. The title track is disappointing and forgettable, but forgivable.

Similar Articles