For the first time in over two and a half years, the men, the myths, the legends TVXQ are back with a full-length album. Despite the long hiatus, they’re far from surrendering. In fact, the title of the album, “The New Chapter #1: The Chance of Love,” indicates a new start. It promises that there will be a “new chapter #2,” and perhaps more to follow. I certainly hope that new chapters will continue to be released indefinitely, because “The New Chapter #1” is an invigorating return to the scene for the duo.
What “The New Chapter #1” offers is a brimming cache of smooth, inoffensive SM pop. It reminds me of the music Super Junior released last fall, in that you can feel that its goals are different from the supergroups’ records of years past. SM is no longer pushing these groups to set trends—just to please the public. The result is mature but expected pop that maintains a certain contemporary gleam while not deviating too far from the group’s original identity. That said, I will admit that this TVXQ album got me in the gut in a way the Suju album didn’t.
It’s not that title track “The Chance of Love” was a knockout so much as that every song on the album has something to offer. “The Chance of Love” is good—just as good as any other track on “The New Chapter #1.” To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the “ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” hook (I just had to write the whole thing out). It’s fun for a few listens, but after that, the charm fades a bit. The real appeal of this track is its swinging beat and the fountain of delectable vocal moments, especially the sudden outburst of “We’ll keep it together, we’ll fall in magic every single day” before the final chorus. The jazzy melodies play right to the pair’s vocal strengths, and the resulting star power is almost blinding.
Now, the song on this album that’s really here to steal hearts—you guessed it—is “Love Line.” This song is exactly what you want pop to sound like: bright and spirited, but sweet and soothing at the same time. It’s comparatively spare, leaning on a simple guitar riff and a structured collection of drifting background vocals to construct an atmosphere. The repetition of the hook allows for a slight shift in the melody that emphasizes the lack of resolution at its end, making the ear unconsciously await the next note and laying a thread of hopefulness into the mood. I would say that it makes the song, but to be honest, Yunho and Changmin’s buttery vocals do that job. In fact, they’re the key to most of the tracks on “The New Chapter #1.” TVXQ touches on a range of genres here, but as someone who is always on the lookout for a great ballad, I’ve got to recommend closing track “Sun & Rain” for my final word on this album. The hook’s tune cycles through a series of colors, each time holding back a little less: it begins somewhere lighthearted and poised, grows earnest, pitches into graceful suspense, and closes on a dreamily warm swell. As usual, the vocals are essential, which just goes to show just how high-caliber these performers are. TVXQ’s music would be completely different if performed by other people, and that, if anything, is the mark of kings.
THE CHANCE AT LOVE: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Can you believe I considered typing out “bop” eleven times? Yikes.
Take a look at TVXQ’s “The Chance at Love” MV below: