After nearly a year since their last comeback with the repackage album, “Love Shot”EXO has returned with their sixth studio album, “Obsession”. They have been keeping busy with solos, sub-units and acting projects, so fans were highly anticipating their group comeback. This is their first release without members Xiumin and Kyungsoo who are currently carrying out their mandatory military service.


BlueNose: “Obsession” is described as “a hip hop dance song featuring repeating spell-like vocal samples and a prominent heavy beat” and I think it fits the bill. The repetition of “I want you” throughout the verses in the background is catchy and memorable. The members’ sassy R&B vocals over the hip hop track makes an addictive combination, and even though others may find it polarizing, I can’t stop listening to it. This track is one where I find myself really impressed by Chen. He usually does the important vocal parts in songs, and I find his vocal performance here to be especially attractive. Suho also stood out to me. “Obsession” is a risky choice to make a comeback with, but I’m happy they took that risk and pulled it off well. 7.75/10

Mina: The album starts with the title track ’’Obsession’’. The song is a hip hop dance track and begins with the words ’’I want you’’. The phrase plays repeatedly and is heard throughout the song. Its catchy beat is interrupted by a somewhat calmer bridge that focuses heavily on vocals. Upon my first listen, I was surprised by the controversial choice for a title track; even though EXO is known for having a diverse discography, ’’Obsession’’ is something I never thought they would try. Although not the strongest track on the album, the song is interesting and well-produced, making it the perfect EXO title track and opening for the album. 9/10


BlueNose: “Trouble” follows the interesting sound of “Obsession” with elements of trap and reggae. It talks about a love that is very deep and there’s no way to escape it. The trap influences are very apparent in the verses. The off-rhythm spoken chorus is alluring, and in my opinion, it’s the best part of the song. The guitar comes in during the bridge, which was unexpected for me on the first listen. When the lyrics read “goddess”, it takes me back to “Monster”, and the last few seconds of the song are reminiscent of the ending in “Kokobop”. This song could almost be on “Ex’Act”, it has that experimental hip hop sound which is the main characteristic of the whole album. As it’s such an off-kilter track, I can see why someone wouldn’t like it, but it grows on me each time I listen to it. 8.5/10

Mina: The follow-up song, “Trouble”, starts slower and sounds more mature than the previous track. When the chorus begins, the beat hits hard and the direction of the track changes. The song is heavier than the rest of the songs on the album, but in my opinion that’s what makes it stand out from the rest. 8/10


BlueNose: “Jekyll” continues the haunting mood of the album left behind by “Obsession” and “Trouble”. With heavy drums, synths, and an 808 bass, the song lives up to its name by carrying a Jekyll and Hyde concept. Due to the EXO/X-EXO concept, I was expecting a bit more from this song. I like it, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite off the album. The verses have a good groove that make me sway from side to side when I listen to the track. However, the element of surprise when the chorus hits isn’t as flawless as the one in “Trouble” in my opinion. The constant “shouting” makes me think that the chorus was taken straight from a portion of NCT‘s “Black on Black”. The vocals are beautifully sprawled throughout the verses and bridge though I must say that the chorus just isn’t quite my taste. 7/10

Mina: “Jekyll”, although similar to “Trouble”, is a bit friendlier to the ears. The melancholic, dark beat fits the song’s theme of having an inner conflict with one’s alter-ego. It instantly became one of my favorites off the album due to its captivating and ruthless sound. As the song progresses, the instrumental becomes darker, most notably in the chorus. The pre-chorus is the most interesting part of the song for me; it’s creepy and constantly keeps me on my feet, leaving no room to rest with its eerie instrumental playing in the background. 9.5/10


BlueNose: “Groove” offers a pleasant change to the album’s direction. It focuses on two lovers sharing their adoration for each other while going into a dream state. String instruments and flutes lace this track and give it a heavenly, dreamy, and bright energy. It’s a lot easier on the ears compared to the first three tracks. Initially, the song doesn’t feel like it will be anything special or different from the average and cute R&B that is often heard in K-Pop, but then the chorus hits and changes everything. It brings in an almost samba-like beat to give the song some spice to an otherwise light-hearted instrumental at that point in the song. Chanyeol and Sehun’s rap parts are auto-tuned to a certain degree, but it doesn’t break the dreamy vibe and instead makes it more interesting. The flute bridge is one of my favorite parts of the song; it was unexpected but pretty. EXO’s almost slurred vocals fit well over the dreamlike track. If Chen shined on “Obsession”, this is Baekhyun’s song for me as his voice adds a nice contrast to the the instrumental. “Groove” lives up to its name, but it’s the kind of track that grows on you and gets better with every listen. 9.5/10

Mina: If the previous songs represented the X-EXO side, this is where the EXO side comes forward. The sound heard in “Groove” is no stranger to fans of EXO’s music; I feel like this could have been a track on the group’s previous album ’’The War’’. The vocal line shine in this song but left little room for the rap line to play. “Groove” is one of my favorite songs on the album, I especially love the instrumental part after the bridge. 8.5/10

Ya Ya Ya” 

BlueNose: “Ya Ya Ya” feels like a huge throwback to the ’90s. However, that isn’t surprising considering it samples SWV’s “You’re The One” which was released in 1996. This track uses the main beat and background vocals of the 1996 hit, but adds a trap layer to it. It brings me back to the time when SM used to buy demos or already created songs to make fresh and almost separate songs out of them, and this is one of the better ones in my opinion. The chorus is catchy and bouncy, although I think it could have been fleshed out more. It feels light, like they’re drifting into the song rather than following a strict structure. 8.5/10

Mina: “Ya Ya Ya” serves as the album’s R&B-inspired track that samples “You’re The One” by SWV. The song is more playful than the others, making it easier to like; it’s chill and laid-back, suitable to be played in the background. It’s different from the other songs on the album and lets the listener take a break from the harder beats heard in the earlier tracks. Although it’s not one of my favorites, I appreciate the risk the group took in releasing a song like this. 6/10

Baby You Are

BlueNose: “Baby You Are” shows a new side to the album, taking us from the light-hearted and fun songs like “Groove” and “Ya Ya Ya” to a funkier side with this song. The track has a subdued tone but it’s an earworm and stays in your mind. When the chorus kicks, the guitar takes things to a new level and gives the song probably the strongest hook in the whole album. It’s only flaw is that it’s 30 seconds too short, capping at just 2 seconds shy of 3 minutes. After the first chorus, nothing much changes in the song as it doesn’t really have the time to, but what was recorded works pretty well anyways. Listening to it from the album and the trillions of Twitter edits I come across on my timeline, this is probably my favorite song off the album. 9.75/10

Mina: “Baby You Are” starts with a guitar riff that predicts the theme of the song; it’s catchy, radio-friendly and makes you happy. It’s a wholesome track where every member gets a chance to flourish either through vocals or rap. This song is pop perfection. The guitar adds flavor to the track and makes it stand out from the other more radio-friendly songs on the album. 10/10

Non Stop

BlueNose: “Non Stop” carries on with the funky vibe that “Baby You Are” left and opens with a chanting chorus. It takes me all the way back to their 2015 B-side, “Tender Love” — they both have a fun, high energy, and feel good vibe. This has a lot more rap and is also more chant heavy compared to the vocally-focused “Baby You Are”, but the vocal parts here are just as addictive to me. With brass synths and a melodic guitar, I can’t help but to love it, even if I don’t think this is my favorite song off the album. The verses and bridge are the strongest parts of the song for me, not the chorus. This is the opposite of the past few songs in the album where it was the chorus that made me fall for them. However, the vocals over the chants captures my attention. I wish it was a little more robust, but I can’t say I’m too mad at the song as it makes happy when it comes on. 8/10

Mina: “Non Stop” is unfortunately one of the more forgettable tracks on the album, I personally find that it doesn’t stand out as much as the others. Although the chorus has a catchy beat and repetitive lyrics that declares that their love is unstoppable, the only memorable moment for me is the small saxophone solo after the chorus and bridge. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good song that would do well on the radio and would fit into my Spotify playlist, but it doesn’t really suit the album. 6.5/10

Day After Day

BlueNose: While i don’t think of “Day After Day” as a true ballad, it takes the spot in the album as the “de facto” ballad. As someone who thinks highly of several EXO ballads compared to those of other K-Pop groups that I’ve had the time to listen to, this is kind of a disappointment. With the acoustic guitar being the main instrument, it only leads me to think that EXO have for sure done better versions of this in the past. It becomes very boring to listen to after the song goes on and on, I get the urge to skip it completely. They have always had solid vocals so they carry this kind of song well, but the arrangement is poor. However, I see these two points as the bare minimum for their ballads, they can deliver something better than this. 5/10

Mina: “Day After Day” serves as the album’s ballad track and buzzkill, since every album needs one. The vocal line show their strength in this song, but compared to their other ballads, it’s bland. The arrangement was put together with bare minimum effort with a predictable instrumental. Unfortunately, there is nothing about the song that makes it stick out. It’s not a bad song, but it’s just… there. 5/10

Butterfly Effect

BlueNose: “Butterfly Effect” brings the album back to a higher point as the last song in the tracklist. The R&B beat and the guitar are the strongest key points of the song for me, but it still feels a bit lackluster compared to the earlier parts of the album. I feel like it should have more of a kick to it, but it’s definitely stronger than the previous track, “Day after Day”, as its hook is much more memorable. Musically, it’s not the album closing i was expecting or truly wanted because of its lackluster melody, but it makes a solid fan song with its message of hoping that an angel (the fans) won’t ever leave the members. 7.5/10

Mina: “Butterfly Effect” is a “thank you” to the fans with its comforting and loving message. It’s the standard pop song and I feel like something is missing, but I can’t pinpoint what exactly it is. Similar to the previous songs, it doesn’t really stand out. It’s cute though. The song itself ends with a message from EXO to their fans ’’Don’t leave me’’, which in my opinion, is a perfect closure to this album. 7/10

Closing Remarks

BlueNose: While “Obsession”  may not be my favorite album from EXO, it’s a really solid attempt considering the fact that they’re missing a few key members due to military service. As of now, it ranks in the top 5 in my ranking of EXO‘s albums. I find that the concept and story the album tells is one of their best. The EXO/X-EXO concept was interesting to see as it showcases a teasing approach, and listening to songs with this style was new to me. All genres heard in the album are some of my favorites, and while I didn’t always like how they executed the songs, I was happy with the risk most of the time.

Artistic Creativity: 8/10
Vocal Quality: 9/10
Music: 7.9/10

Final score: 8.3/10

Mina: Obsession” is one of EXO’s stronger albums, sonically and vocally. The dual concept allowed both the rap and vocal lines to shine, which I appreciate. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this album seeing as its title track is different from what the group had released before, but I was pleasantly surprised. While I questioned some song placements on the album, I love how they are able to incorporate different genres into one album and make it work. The album produced some of my new all-time favorite EXO songs and they have been on repeat ever since they were released. To me, it is one, if not, the best album of 2019.

Artistic Creativity: 9/10
Vocal Quality: 9.5/10
Music: 7.7/10

Final score: 8.7/10