Most EXO fans didn’t expect to get another release until at least 2022. With four of the nine members—Baekhyun, Suho, Chanyeol, and Chen—all doing their South Korean military conscription, most naturally presumed their hiatus would last for at least another 18 months. Which is why, when an album announcement and subsequent comeback schedule was dropped last month, the excitement felt amplified, even by the normally passionate fandom’s standards. Don’t Fight The Feeling is EXO’s seventh EP and by the time of its release on Monday, the record already logged 1.22 million preorders (a new record for the group), as well as the futuristic, space-inspired music video for lead single of the same name pulling in more than 16 million views and counting. In addition to its commercial success, the release also heralds a momentous personal (and personnel) shift for EXO, marking the return of members Xiumin, D.O., and Lay.
The album itself is only five tracks long. It may not be the hoped-for full-length, it’s but long enough to hold fans over at least for a little while. The EP is defined by high energy and impressive production: Lead single “Don’t Fight The Feeling” is an infectious, upbeat dance track that feels reminiscent of the group’s 2017 release “Power,” only with slightly more soulful R&B runs and stronger rap verses from the group’s rappers Chanyeol and Sehun.
EXO continues that momentum with the next two tracks: “Paradise” and “No Matter.” The former is a tropical house track and the latter is funkier and borrows more from old school new jack swing. But both songs represent EXO in their purest form: full of powerhouse vocals, husky rap verses, and unmatched harmonies. The album doesn’t have a stand-out traditional ballad—a bit surprising, considering how ubiquitous they are throughout EXO’s discography—but the guys do slow things down a bit for the tail end of the EP. “Runaway” is a laidback track with a driving bass-line and dreamy harmonies, before “Just As Usual” concludes things with a soft, mellow “Korean coffee shop” beat, and just a dash of piano and electric guitar.
With only five short tracks, Don’t Fight The Feeling doesn’t initially seem that it could go toe to toe with EXO’s full-length releases of the last few years—namely, 2018's Don’t Mess Up My Tempo and 2019's Obsession. However, the record contains enough truly well-done songs that Don’t Fight The Feeling should be a welcome addition to any EXO fan’s heavy-rotation playlists this summer and onward.