When Tomorrow x Together, aka TXT, debuted in March 2019, they began their Dream Chapter: an album series about a group of friends brought together by a shared dream. But after 2020, dreams have given way to the next chapter: chaos.
The group’s new album series, The Chaos Chapter, and its first release FREEZE, feels like a natural progression in any coming-of-age narrative, but one that takes on a whole new level of meaning as the world has literally been thrown into chaos, and so many of our lives have become frozen in place.
The album as a whole spans genres, but has one cohesive theme: chaos itself. More specifically, the chaotic cycle of inner turmoil and external disturbances, and the way the two impact one another. There’s a sense of frustration and anguish that permeates the album – even love songs like title track “0X1=LOVESONG” and “Magic” have a sense of desperation about them. Hope is there – to be found in other people – but it’s a slippery thing; as quick to melt away as ice cream, as the fourth track “Ice Cream” suggests.
Group leader Soobin said in a press conference on Monday that while The Dream Chapter showed the story of the growth of a boy, The Chaos Chapter is about the boy’s world under assault – from COVID-19 and other forces. Youngest member Huening Kai added that the music is both their own stories, and those of their fellow young people.
“Our music contains stories that only Tomorrow x Together can tell,” he said. “We interpret the stories of teenagers in our own way … I want to be a team that best represents teenagers around the world.”
The fact that these are very teen stories is emphasised across the visuals connected with the album. The incredible concept trailer feels like something straight out of Stranger Things, as the members of TXT play retro video games at a mall before being attacked by a freeze that creeps over everything before actually assaulting them from all sides. It captures what the album is essentially about: carefree lives suddenly disrupted, and fun times with friends replaced with isolation, coldness, and being stuck in place.
In the trailer, Soobin wears a shirt with the logo for Netflix series The End of the F***ing World emblazoned on it. The show is a dark comedy/drama about two lonely, messed-up teens who run away from home and find healing and hope in one another – in love. The themes of the story are reflected in The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE, and especially in the title track, “0x1=LOVESONG”, which is exactly why the shirt was chozen, according to Soobin – it wasn’t just for the aesthetics. He revealed at the press conference that the group watched The End of the F***ing World while preparing for their album, saying “the main characters experienced emotions in the show that we could draw from”.
The influence of the show is reinforced in the music video for “0x1=LOVESONG”, with both the overarching narrative and specific scenes calling back to the Netflix series – from stealing a car and going on a roadtrip to the car breaking down to hanging out in an abandoned pool to burning clothes (or at least, attempting to).
There’s nods to another iconic teen title to be found in the music video, too – Taehyun wears the LOSER/LOVER cast from IT, while Beomgyu wears a shirt with a clown on the front. Like The End of the F***ing World, IT is a story about how we save each other. By referencing these titles, TXT not only highlights the themes of their own art, they also place it squarely within the coming-of-age canon.
At their press conference, Taehyun revealed that the group had more input on the concept, visuals, and even the clothes they were wearing for this comeback – in addition to the songwriting itself. As the group highlights over and over again, while their music taps into universal teen feelings, it also very much explores their own. Each member contributed to the lyrics of at least one track on the album – a creative process they want to continue and deepen in the future.
“We have more to show than what we’ve already shown,” said Taehyun. “We want to show our diverse music spectrum, break new barriers, and interpret any genre in our own style.”
“I really want to move people’s hearts with Tomorrow X Together’s music,” added Beomgyu. “When time passes and people listen to our music, I want them to think, ‘Oh, my heart fluttered when I listened to this song’.”
With The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE, TXT have continued their mission to be a voice for their generation – as well as their place as stand-outs in their own micro-generation within the K-pop industry.
“When people think of fourth generation idols, we want to be the group that first comes to mind,” said Yeonjun. “We want to be 4th generation IT boys.” It’s safe to say that, even amid the chaos, this is one dream for TXT that has already come true.
This article was written by Jenna Guillaume, an entertainment journalist and author of YA rom-coms What I Like About Me and You Were Made For Me. Follow her at @jennaguillaume.