They say you’re hardest on the things you love the most, and I feel like I’ve been especially hard on TVXQ this year. At the outset of 2018, I would’ve predicted them having a huge presence on my year-end lists, but unfortunately they ended up being a no-show. This is mostly due to the direction their post-military music has taken. I wanted big, impactful material like they delivered prior to 2015, but we wound up with more subdued, nuanced work. 15th anniversary single “Truth” continues down this lane, but it does represent a very welcome return of one of my favorite composers.
Thomas Troelsen! When I read that name on the song’s credits, I could hardly believe it. I credit Troelsen as one of my biggest avenues into K-pop, especially since I had been a longtime fan of his Danish work before he started crafting major hits for SM Entertainment. TVXQ fans will connect his name most strongly to “Mirotic“, which is one of the group’s most iconic hits. In contrast, the jazz-influenced “Truth” dials things way back.
To be fair, TVXQ are at a very different stage in their career than they were in 2008, and with that in mind “Truth” fits them like a glove. The funky bass sets things in the right direction immediately, underlining a series of smooth vocals that skirt the instrumental with undeniable style. The layering on the chorus is even better, harnessing the trademark TVXQ sound without going overboard.
My major gripe, then, is the same as it was back in late March. “Truth” is beautiful and accomplished, but nothing about it holds the kind of impact I know these guys are capable of delivering. It feels like a very slight entry in their discography. Don’t get me wrong … I’ll gladly take it and play it incessantly, but I’m still waiting on that knockout return that fully showcases why TVXQ are rightfully considered the best in the business.