No two people live the same life. But, there are certain emotional experiences that allow us to relate to each other regardless of any differences. Since their debut, TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) has presented a clear intention to share complex, interwoven stories of what it’s like, in real-time, to come of age through their discography in a way that millions can connect to. On October 13, TXT released The Name Chapter: FREEFALL and resumed building upon their own universe.
The journey begins in 2019 with The Dream Chapter, which holds a trilogy (Star, Magic, and Eternity) within it. Bright colors and a sense of optimism mark the transition from boyhood to adolescence. The world is starting to get a bit confusing, but it still holds so many promises. Being young has a way of making you feel invincible and provides the illusion that you can actually run away from the harsh edges of reality and that what you have is infinite. These sentiments, along with the origins of the quintet, become part of the fictionalized saga; they stumble upon a “Magic Island” and metamorphose into characters with horns, pointed ears, spiked backs, a star eye, and wings (seen in the music video for “Nap of a Star”).
Enter The Chaos Chapter and its two parts: Freeze and Fight or Escape. This by-the-book rock era shatters everything and throws them out of their fantasy world and into the real one. Gone is the idealism from the first chapter. Here, we find conflict and a more cynical, pragmatic perspective. Growing up isn’t what was once imagined, and expletive-filled songs like “LO$ER=LO♡ER” use classic punk-rock sounds to express this overwhelming angst. We all have moments that harden our hearts and forever cut us off from who we used to be. A first heartbreak, betrayal, and things that shake hope and send us into disarray are present themes as the boys stand on the edge of adulthood. One thing to appreciate about TXT’s music is how they don’t shy away from addressing life’s struggles. They seek to be, and are, an honest voice for the current generation.
Earlier this year, the first part of The Name Chapter picked all of this up to explore, through fantastical themes, what it feels like to long for innocence lost. TEMPTATION is deeply influenced by the tales of Peter Pan and the colors of Alice and Wonderland. The entire EP possesses a strong desire to linger in the freedom of youth. The last track, “Farewell Neverland,” acts as an explicit connecting piece to FREEFALL. ‘No matter where I go / This is no home / Even if I’m afraid I’m going down’; despite wishing to postpone the inevitable, TXT is self-aware, much like other fellow Gen Z, that there is a time limit to staying in Neverland.
In FREEFALL’s opening track, “Growing Pain,” the members have made the leap and traded the mystical grasslands of Neverland to fight for their dreams in reality. With heavy metal as their musical guide, they declare they will make their way even if they have broken bones and are bleeding. The following song, “Chasing That Feeling,” makes a huge turn into 80s synth-pop, but the message remains relatively the same. Even though they are marred, they feel alive and will find the feeling, or perhaps a new version of it, that they formerly had. "Reality has no clear answers," they sing in “Happily Ever After”. In signature TXT fashion, they once again hide a sense of existential doom underneath cheery rhythms. Even if it feels like there’s barely anything to grasp onto, as if you’re falling with no parachute, there is a sharp determination to solidify one’s identity from the top to the bottom of this album.
This raw grit is also found in allusions made to previous chapters, letting listeners and fans know that the past – for all its wonders and suffering – is not something to forget. “Dreamer” mentions the recently departed Neverland directly, and in Jersey club “Deep Down” the horns from The Dream Chapter are referenced several times in the lyrics. Those horns turn into a crown in “Blue Spring,” a piece of refuge for their fanbase called MOA. Passionate vocals describe how the warmth of the people who stick by them throughout the good and the bad make the embarrassing and challenging something magnificent and worthwhile. These references are tangible points of reflection that will propel them forward into a fresh era.
Sonically, this album is not the most consistent, but that might further lend itself to how authentic the group strives to be when it comes to conveying how discombobulated the adventure of finding your place in the world can be. There are so many choices, potential directions, and colors to navigate through all the time. The Name Chapter: FREEFALL, at its core, is a work of accepting how life doesn’t stop when the fairytale book closes. It keeps going, and our stories' endings are still yet to be written. But no matter how difficult, how long, or how wonderfully chaotic life is, TOMORROW X TOGETHER proves that they are dedicated to evolving alongside us and to making music that speaks to what it sounds like to grow up.
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