Earlier this year, K-pop group Monsta X delivered one of the best records of the year with their third album Take 2 – We Are Here. The seven-piece have now set their sights on the Japanese market with their second regional release, Phenomenon.
Where Take 2 was pumped full of energetic EDM bangers, Phenomenon shows a different stylistic approach, as the boys vie for a more aggressive tone with gangsta rap-filled verses.
Openers X-Phenomenon and Livin’ It Up indicate this shift with gritty, repetitive low-synth riffs, creating the perfect backing for their voices to cut through; but both choruses see a clunky drop in dynamic and tempo, essentially losing the momentum that was building.
From here, though, Monsta X really break into their stride, with highlights My Beast and Flash Back using low brass blasts to full effect, carving out some memorable hooks among the minimal R’n’B beats.
Monsta X also deliver some Japanese versions of two of their biggest hits: Alligator and Shoot Out. Although they feel a little out of tune with the general tone of the rest of the album – following the EDM-led style of previous releases – their infectious energy is undeniable, and likely to be just as successful as the original versions.
Closer Carry On is even more pop-centric and radio-friendly. The tropical pop keyboard chords, Clean Bandit-style mono-synth melodies, and late 90s euro-pop mash-up is the sign of a group in full flourish. Pheneomenon is a record that goes from strength to strength.