EXO were the second group featured in my “K-pop A-Z” project. In late 2019, I took a deep dive into their discography and reviewed each and every track. Because of this, any new material will also become part of that page, meaning it’s time for another “in-depth album review” for the newly-released Don’t Fight The Feeling!
Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking at all five of the album’s tracks, so make sure to follow along each day!
Judging from online reactions, Runaway is already a fan-favorite. And, I can see why. It takes advantage of EXO’s vocals in a way the other songs on this album don’t, and its evocative texture has an almost alt-pop feel. I like it too. But, it’s nowhere near my favorite song on the album.
Runaway is moodier than the tracks that precede it. This extends to the instrumental, which is driven by reverbing percussion and sparse guitar. The arrangement creates a ton of empty space for the group’s vocals to fill — especially during the pre-chorus. In contrast, the chorus brings the guys’ voices together for a chanted hook. Effects give this an echoey appeal, as if EXO are performing in the middle of some vast tunnel.
As successful as Runaway is at building mood and texture, I’ve always placed more importance on melody and momentum. The verses are a little dull for my taste, and that haunting chorus begins to feel repetitive as the song wears on. I would’ve loved to hear the track build toward a more explosive climax. The structure does change during this segment, but simply rearranges the elements we’ve already heard.