One of the most solid albums I’ve heard in a while, “XOXO” is filled with songs that showcase the singing abilities of the Exo members.
There are two versions of this album, the Kiss version, sung in Korean, and the Hug version, which is sung in Mandarin.
The album begins with the title track “Wolf.” It incorporates elements from hip-hop and dubstep, coming together in a bombastic title song. Although the chorus and the verses differ greatly, to the point that they could be two different songs, the transitions are pretty seamless. It also includes all twelve members, unlike the other songs which are sung by either Exo-K or Exo-M depending on the album.
The next song is “Baby Don’t Cry,” which is one of my favorite songs on the CD. The song is a ballad, and quite catchy. It begins with piano, and then the members begin to sing. The high notes in the chorus really sound quite sad and desperate, and contrary to the title, make me want to cry. I personally prefer the Chinese version of this song, mainly because of the large difference in the members’ voices; in the Korean version, Baekhyun’s voice and D.O.’s voice sound quite similar. The voices of the Exo-M members contrast with each other more. The rap did not feel out of place in this song either. Whether it be Korean or Chinese, the rap section was very soft and suited the mood of the song.
After that comes “Black Pearl,” which has a Pirates of the Caribbean feel to it. It is quite the bombastic track, retaining a mysterious feel as it moves from soft verses to an impactful chorus. The bass drum of the song is what gives it life, as well as the violins. Additionally, the double bass in the background gives it that dark vibe, making it seem as if one is really sailing across the seas. Towards the bridge and the rap section, the background music turns electronic, but reverts to its original tune at the end.
The fourth song is “Don’t Go,” which reminds me of “Angel” from their first mini-album “Mama.” The song is a refreshing break from the heavy beat of the previous track. The background is composed of a light drum, piano, and guitar. It is a refreshing track that suits cool summer nights.
Fifth is “Let Out the Beast.” It is a fast, electronic song that has a tough, mysterious vibe. It has ample amounts of rap, which make up a significant part of its verses. There is a small break, which is interesting, with its dubstep. The background music incorporates a sonar-esque noise, which adds to the dark, sci-fi-ish sound. The song is properly placed in the album as well, in the middle of two happier tracks. This ensures that the songs do not sound redundant.
The next song is “3.6.5.,” which distinctly reminds me of something One Direction would sing. It’s fun, energetic, and happy; overall, it is a track that can really pump you up. It begins with an electric guitar and a simple beat, before progressing. The lead-in to the chorus loses the beat and incorporates fairytale-like synths, something light and delicate. To sum it up, the track is the epitome of pop.
The seventh track on the album is “Heart Attack,” which is heavy and electronic in style. The song uses an ample amount of auto-tune. The vocals of the members, and a cymbal is used. Despite its normal tempo, it has a dark, sad feel.
Then comes “Peter Pan,” a hopeful song that reminds one of the spring. At first, the chorus loses its drum save for the bass. There is a lot of harmony in the song; it is quite relaxing and enjoyable.
“Baby” is the ninth track on the album. It is soft, and quite bare during the verses; during the chorus and hook, however, there is a lot of harmony. Though it has the same hopeful, sweet feel similar to “Peter Pan” the listener can distinguish one from the other.
The last song (not including alternate versions of “Wolf”) is “My Lady.” This track has a sultry, seductive feel, and the voices of the members add to that. I personally prefer the Korean version, because of the huskiness in D.O. and Baekhyun’s voices. The song takes on more of a jazz feel; it is further accentuated by the falsetto used during certain parts. Additionally, when the members sing the lead-in to the chorus, the listener can make out two octaves. The song is one of my favorites on the album.
Overall, I give this album a 9.7/10. Coming into it, I did not really have high expectations, though I love Exo; it is only their first full-length album. After listening to it, though, I must say that it is one of my favorite albums of all time. My only complaints would be the slight choppiness of “Wolf.” Also, there were too many happy, guitar-centered songs for my liking, but that would just be my personal taste. “XOXO,” is definitely an album (or albums, considering there are two versions) that you must listen to. Seriously.
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Make you check out both the Korean and Chinese versions of Exo’s “Wolf” MV below!