In their first comeback since making a stellar debut with The Dream Chapter: STAR, TOMORROW X TOGETHER uses MAGIC to show that they’re more than meets the eye. Premiering powerful choreography and melodious vocals in the second installment of The Dream Chapter series, TXT returns with otherworldly visuals and a narrative fit for enchanting.
“Please take me now, to the magic named ‘us’.”
The healing power of togetherness is pushed to the forefront in “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away),” the title track of The Dream Chapter: MAGIC. Shortened to “943” by the group, it’s an adventurous synth-pop track with a galloping rock rhythm that rides lyrics from the false smiles of affected contentment to taking hold of a helping hand reaching out to give strength. The song continues to play upon the theme of the group’s comeback, especially evident in the mystical trilling melody of the hook that gives off a strong spellcasting effect and the references to magical moments in entertainment history; such as the “bibbidi-bobbidi” of Cinderella and elements in the world of Harry Potter that go beyond the title of the tune.
As skilled on their feet as they are with their voices, the mystery behind what the new choreography would be like is finally revealed. “Precise movements and raw energy is our specialty,” said Yeonjun at The Dream Chapter: MAGIC press conference on October 21, “You’ll be able to feel a tough energy. It’ll be fun if you look for parts in the choreo where we’ve expressed a tunnel or train.” Another notable move is when the five TXT members form a ticking clock in motion; once again displaying smooth line formations the group has expertly executed from the beginning as seen in the impressive star and arrow choreography from their debut single, “CROWN.”
Their high energy dance moves can be spotted in bursts in the music video for “Run Away,” where the youthful atmosphere is captured beautifully, tapping on multiple essentials in the spirit of adolescence: Listlessness? Check. School? Check. Reckless abandon? Check. Assisted by mysterious doors—some only seen truthfully through magic lenses—the group moves from classroom to underwater to forest to open field, showing they’re more powerful in numbers than alone. Each setting stands out in its own way as TXT dances through them. One scene in particular displays the group’s bouncing choreography performed in an empty swimming pool, their surroundings as blue as Yeonjun’s hair while the world outside is literally upside down.
If The Dream Chapter: STAR was TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s opportunity to prove themselves, The Dream Chapter: MAGIC is a declaration that they’re building upwards from the groundwork that’s been laid. In the seven months between their debut mini album and their first full-length studio album, including TDC: MAGIC’s two rescheduled release dates from August to September to October, they’ve emerged with even stronger vocals and an updated, yet distinct sound that shows it was all worth the wait.
The Dream Chapter: MAGIC continues where the first album left off, navigating through the maze of adolescence that’s sometimes dark and twisted. At their Oct. 21 press conference, TXT leader Soobin explained that the album “contains a story like magic that comes about by being together with friends” It’s a tale the group can relate to at their ages, between 17 and 20, and that hasn’t gone missed by the members as they express their own connection to the message. “I find solace and am comforted that I too have met members with the same dream,” said Taehyun at the conference, “When I’m with the members, I am able to do things that seemed impossible if I’m alone.”
Rather than straying far off the path of the multigenre-infused pop music established in TDC: STAR, there’s an organic development to showcase TXT’s growth in both appearance and vibe. It’s a smart move to make, allowing them to explore and incorporate new beats, rhythms, and genres while at the same time building a recognizable foundation for their discography. The influence of R&B, hip-hop, jazz, house and other EDM varieties, and the new jack swing style of the 1980s-1990s is still ever-present in the group’s musical backbone, presenting an element of nostalgia mixed with modern forward-motion as it all blends together.
TOMORROW X TOGETHER may have the benefit of standing out from the rest of the pack as many acts have adopted darker, heavy-hitting concepts this season, but don’t be fooled—TXT’s concept is also taking a deeper dive into the dark as they mature; however, their approach is measured differently. “Run Away” has a more escapist, near-desperate sound than “CROWN,” though both songs tackle topics of loneliness and finding one’s way, showing that the initial brightness introduced at debut could possibly be dimming slowly as the story the group is telling continues to unfold. Still, the good energy of TXT remains true-to-form, even through the progression of songs on their latest album.
“New Rules,” an alternative punk track with hip-hop elements, opens The Dream Chapter: MAGIC with sirens and a wish to create new rules in the world. The song features energetic choreography that was first premiered during the TOMORROW X TOGETHER Welcome Back Show on Mnet along with stages for “Run Away,” “20cm,” and “Angel Or Devil.” It effectively sets the tone for one of the group’s major goals, which seems to be making space for themselves on their own terms. As the youngest member of the team, Hueningkai, has a producing credit on TDC: MAGIC by way of “Roller Coaster,” they’re already steaming ahead on that promise.
Holding a beat reminiscent to the opening of “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe, “Roller Coaster” has a jazzy, house flow in the same vein as the aforementioned new jack swing, though not falling squarely into the genre. It mimics the stomach-whirling feeling of being on the thrill ride that could easily be compared to the lightheadedness attached to having a crush, taking a trip to the sky as it leads into the dreamy and carefree “Poppin’ Star.”
“Can’t We Just Leave the Monster Alive,” “Magic Island,” and “20cm” are the calm between the more energetic tracks, each in their own way. “Monster” carries the undercurrent of an island beat during the sunrise while “Magic Island” comparatively eases into the calm of sunset, complete with a harmonious, soothing chorus referencing the stars. In fact, the album as a whole gradually slows from Tracks 3-7 with the much-anticipated “20cm” serving as the resident slow jam, showcasing a more mature sound for the quintet through the electric piano-driven R&B groove.
Throwing in a “Love ya 3000,” the energy picks up again in the last track, “Angel Or Devil,” a song about a person’s endless battle between their two inner voices. Its staging is just as fun as the song itself, even drawing inspiration from their seniors, BTS, through the choreography during a line taken from Skool Luv Affair’s “Boy In Luv.” It makes for a solid ending, ensuring that you’ll be compelled to bop to the beat just as much on the way out as you did when the album began. There’s no doubt that The Dream Chapter: MAGIC is a great addition to what TXT brings to the table as the album quickly rose to #1 on iTunes, and we look forward to what’s to come!
TOMORROW X TOGETHER is a five-member group under BigHit Entertainment. Since their debut in March 2019, TXT has earned multiple awards and successfully hit the road for their first U.S. showcase, TOMORROW X TOGETHER SHOWCASE: STAR in US, which sold out in less than twenty-four hours. Despite the immense pressure that surrounds them, TXT continues to dream big while also looking at the road ahead, hoping for the best in a “head in the clouds, feet on the ground” manner. “Our dream is to receive rookie awards at the year-end shows,” said Hueningkai at their press conference for the new album. Yeonjun expressed another dream of theirs, one that’s already begun for the boys and will continue to blossom: “We want to sing and perform for as many people as possible.”
The Dream Chapter: STAR debuted at #140 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 on the US Billboard World Album chart upon its release, pleasantly surprising the group. “It was an unimaginable achievement,” said Beomgyu, “I hope this album can also be on the charts. But most of all, I hope the people who waited for our comeback will be satisfied to hear it.”
As TXT embarks on their upcoming appearances on music shows in Korea, The Dream Chapter: MAGIC is available for purchase in two versions—Sanctuary and Arcadia—and is now streaming globally on all major music platforms.
What’s your favorite song on TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s new album? Let us know in the comments below!
Cover Image: TOMORROW X TOGETHER (Big Hit Entertainment)
Written by Britt Franklin