LOS ANGELES (AP) — In 2019, when the K-pop group TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT for short) first debuted, they were best known as the first BigHit Entertainment boy band since BTS. Those days went as quickly as they arrived.
The quintet of Yeonjun, Soobin, Taehyun, HueningKai, and Beomgyu are one of the most influential contemporary K-pop groups, lovingly referred to as “K-pop’s voice for Gen Z” for their high-concept, relatable albums and their fearless genre eclecticism. No two records are the same, but the accolades are many. Last year, TXT made their U.S. debut at Lollapalooza, the famed festival in Chicago. This year, they became the first ever K-pop group to headline it, a few months after their album, “The Name Chapter: Temptation,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
On Friday, the TXT story continues, and they will release another album, “The Name Chapter: Freefall.” There’s a very specific, whimsical mythology behind it: “Temptation” centered on a narrative of young people on the brink of adulthood, feeling tempting by false illusions of an everlasting childhood, playing with imagery of Peter Pan and Neverland. “Freefall” breaks away from that place.
It is a “freefall into reality,” as HueningKai explains it to The Associated Press, speaking through an interpreter.
“The Name Chapter: Freefall” is about growing up and simultaneously celebrating youth, as evidenced in songs like the ’80s-inspired synth-y new wave track, “Chasing That Feeling,” or more explicitly in the nu-metal opener “Growing Pain.”
“Growing isn’t easy,” Taehyun says of the latter song. “Growing requires growing (through) pain all the time. That’s why we have this kind of sound and look.”
Rock influences are woven into the album, but it wouldn’t be a TXT release if they stuck to a particular formula. They’ve also collaborated with Brazilian pop superstar Anitta on “Back for More,” a song they debuted at the 2023 VMAs last month, as well as the cowbell-heavy retro-pop “Do It Like That” alongside the Jonas Brothers.
“We take great value in working together with various artists,” Taehyun says of their global collaborations. “Because collaborating with different artists always inspires us and it pushes us forward. And I think the listeners for music of different artists are different, which means that when we come together, the listeners can also join forces and come together, which has this big butterfly effect.”
And if there is one consistency in TXT’s music, it is that they strive for connection.
“A lot of our fans will face difficulties in life,” he continues. “But we all know there is an answer waiting for us. There is a destination we are headed to, so we just have to keep moving and pushing forward.”