After introducing fans to the fresh sounds and heady concepts of a new era with Map of the Soul: Persona, K-pop boy band BTS expand on that vision with their sleek and polished seventh full-length, Map of the Soul: 7.
Through the lenses of fame and relationships, the group embark on a psycho-emotional journey that explores ideas of identity and self, using Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung's concepts as a backbone.
Backed by impeccable production from a team of familiar faces (including Hitman, Hiss Noise, and P-Dogg), they transform contemporary trends from the worlds of hip-hop, pop, and dance into a fittingly unique BTS experience.
Highlights from their 2019 EP set the stage, as leader/rapper RM gets existential with "Intro: Persona," using Jung's persona archetype (which represents how we present ourselves to the world) to ponder "Who the hell am I?" The Halsey collaboration "Boy with Luv" and the Ed Sheeran-penned "Make It Right" also appear, before booming dance number "Dionysus" makes way for over a dozen previously unreleased tracks.
Opening the standout middle stretch, Suga tackles the dark side of Jungian concepts with "Interlude: Shadow," an intense rap flurry that samples "Intro: O!RUL8,2?" as the rapper lists his deepest desires for fame and glory.
From there, the defiant anthem "ON" stacks a horn section atop a drumline and a choir for a booming effect that is further elevated by a bonus Sia version on the digital version of the album.
For fans of the boys' aggressive rap cyphers, the raucous "UGH!" pummels hard, incorporating gunshots and menace on the set's most unhinged moment.
Like Love Yourself: Answer, Map of the Soul: 7 closes with an uplifting, emotionally satisfying run that plays on sentiment and optimism.
They reach a peak on "We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal," a triumphant, electro-tinged declaration of love to their ARMY fan base.
Singing "We were only seven/But we have you all now," the septet acknowledge that "BTS" is more than just themselves, a direct nod to the massive international following that helped make them one of the biggest global names in music.
In just a few short years, BTS have evolved from mischievous K-pop underdogs to genre-blurring kings of stadium pop.
With each album, they continue on the path of self-discovery and maturity, pulling off yet another effortless display of pop prowess without forgetting the fans who have helped them along the way.