Tomorrow X Together reach new heights with tempting concept album

Have Peter Pan’s lost boys found their way through the garden of Eden?

On January 27, Tomorrow X Together released their sixth mini-album The Name Chapter: Temptation, a bold new venture for the group in terms of themes, concept and aesthetic. Their previous album, Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child, explored the dark feelings and emotions that can follow someone’s first breakup. In this installment, the group is faced with potentially-negative temptation for the very first time. Drawing inspiration from classic stories including Peter Pan and Chunhyangga, the group face a fresh set of difficult choices with charm and confidence.

The album starts strong with the best song on the record, “Devil By the Window.” Sung entirely in English, “Devil By the Window” features spare production that skates a razor-thin line between dreamlike and nightmarish. Its dark bass line and finger snaps reminiscent of “bad guy” by Billie Eilish are incredible decisions not just tonally, but functionally in the way it keeps the focus on the lyrics. This track was the perfect choice for an album opener, setting the dark tone and high stakes with lyrics like “waste, waste away in the gutter with me/no, I can’t tell what is fake in my reality” and referring to the nefariously sweet influence as “a wolf in sheep clothes.” Energetic and addicting with some of TXT’s most ambitious choreography to date, “Devil By the Window” invites you in for a dark ride you won’t want to escape.

It also happens to tie perfectly into “Sugar Rush Ride,” Temptation‘s title track. Energetic guitar licks set a deceptively bright tone, a summer jam containing lyrics that explain why temptation in any form can be so difficult to resist. In the second verse, Hueningkai and Taehyun sing, “You’re so addictive, my veins full of sweets/the forbidden lines slowly fade away this daze-like anemia/but I prefer it that way/every cell under my skin becomes more sensitive.” Additionally, the use of words like “swallow” and “feast” seem to suggest a near gluttonous desire to take in as much as physically possible. It’s a darker direction for the group that feels like a natural progression rather than a hard left turn into something more mature or transparently sexy. Paired with Soobin’s gorgeous falsetto in the refrain and bright percussion, “Sugar Rush Ride” is a standout track and a perfect choice to represent the album.

Unfortunately, “Happy Fools” is where the album stumbles. The track is elevated by Coi Leray’s guest feature which, intentional or not, gives voice to the temptation that leads TXT to choose rest over being “a honeybee that only works.” Her voice blends particularly well with Beomgyu and Yeonjun on the last chorus, but it’s hampered by the song’s repetitive refrain and the song’s overall lackluster production. The lyrics play perfectly into the album’s concept and story, describing the guilty pleasure that comes with lazing around, but “Happy Fools” is easily Temptation‘s weakest point.

Temptation regains footing with “Tinnitus (wanna be a rock),” a track that is both an existential crisis and the hangover after a night of heavy drinking. Like a thunderstorm on the beach, the song’s darkly tropical production illuminates the tone regardless if you know how the Korean translates to English. More than anything, the narrators are fully aware of their limitations with lyrics like, “Wanna live a new life, but I’m a bit lazy/what is my existence? Give me an answer.” Complete with simple but earworm-y production and well-communicated desperation in lyrics and tone, the song’s only shortcoming is the length. At only two minutes and thirty-seven seconds, Temptation‘s penultimate track isn’t given enough room to fully appreciate what it’s trying to do. Even another thirty seconds or so would have given the song a bit more room to breathe, but it’s overall a fantastic addition to the record.

Closing out the album is, fittingly enough, “Farewell, Neverland.” Its production is spare and organic, primarily consisting of Spanish guitar and light percussion. Not one second feels empty or wasted though, especially with lyrics like “everything that was beautiful, I know it’s not true/Trying to spit out that cruel lie to the paradises of irresponsible dreams” neatly wrapping this chapter up in a bow. A bittersweet and final farewell to childhood, “Farewell, Neverland” closes out this part of the story while leaving plenty of room for the beginning of the next.

Tomorrow X Together followed the second star to the right and flew straight on into a more mature concept that stays true not only to the group’s storyline, but the concept they’ve stuck with since debut. Questionable production choices keep this album from the 5/5 it should have been, but it is another strong entry into the group’s catalogue.

RATING: 3.8/5

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