Monster X squeezes into the American Pop mold on ‘ALL ABOUT LUV,’ but loses their sound

Monsta X

ALL ABOUT LUV

Epic Records· February 14, 2020


After nearly a year of English single releases, Monsta X debuted their first full-length English album: ALL ABOUT LUV.  The aptly named album, which covers the before and after and the good and bad of all things romance, makes its Valentine’s Day release all the more exciting. ALL ABOUT LUV is vocal-heavy for Monsta X, focusing on smooth R&B tracks as they try to break into the US mainstream. As the first-ever entirely English album attempt by any K-Pop group, Monsta X has a lot to prove. Over the course of 11 tracks, the group draws heavy inspiration from the charts to create American radio-friendly music, successfully establishing themselves as a catchy boy band.

The opening track “WHO DO U LOVE? (feat. French Montana)” is still as memorable as it was eight months ago when it was released as a single. The album closes with a club-style remix featuring will.i.am of the same song. Both tracks set the style of the album in stone: club-friendly pop. 

The album continues into “LOVE U” produced by Andres Torres and Mauricio Rengifo, known for their work on “Despacito.” The track is playful, teasing a sexier side that’s to come, but focusing still on radio appeal. Radio-friendly is the key aspect of this album. Compared to their typically dance-oriented EDM style, Monsta X chooses to appeal to an American audience, focusing on car-ride playability. The album does a fantastic job of staying upbeat enough to keep drivers awake and head-nodding in their seat, but never has a stand-up and dance moment. 

This subdued style has its standouts: “SOMEONE’S SOMEONE” and “YOU CAN’T HOLD MY HEART.” The member’s six voices (featuring seventh ex-member Wonho’s voice) blend beautifully together in “SOMEONE’S SOMEONE.” The typical boy-band inspired track showcases the vulnerable and relatable sides to Monsta X  as they sing about longing to find someone to love. The moody bass of “YOU CAN’T HOLD MY HEART” showcases its indie rock inspiration and is a welcome break up anthem. It nearly perfectly mirrors the vocal-heavy “HAPPY WITHOUT ME,” which is a petty anthem to anyone who has been bitter about their ex moving on.

Overall, the lyrics throughout the album are incredibly impressive, and manage to create diverse stories about all things love. The downfall of many K-Pop English releases is the inability to translate fluently between English and Korean, seeing as the languages have little in common. ALL ABOUT LUV has perfect comprehension, from the wording of the lyrics to their pronunciation. Considering only one of the six members is fluent in English, the member’s delivery is incredible.

The only track where listening to the lyrics is jarring is during “MISBEHAVE,” which only suffers from telling too intensive of a story. Whereas other tracks on the album cover obsession in the context of jealousy, “MISBEHAVE” looks at the obsession of not being alone even at the cost of the self. Minhyuk sings “I only feel alive when I don’t feel safe/I wouldn’t wanna have it any other way,” illustrating the consequences of unhealthy relationships. However, the piano ballad is also the sexiest track on the album, which is a welcome change from the stereotypical breakup ballad.

The album closes with “BESIDE U (feat. Pitbull).” The collaboration is less exciting than anticipated, but it fits with the rest of the album, teetering on the edge of a dance track without taking the plunge into one.

Monsta X’s English release is as natural as they come. If you weren’t already aware they were a K-Pop group, it would be hard to tell they were anything other than the next boy band. The tracks are all radio-friendly earworms. For a new audience, it’s a good start and shows off a softer side of the group. However, it lacks a hard-hitting EDM track that holds truer to Monsta X’s original and beloved style. 

 

Listen to ALL ABOUT LUV:

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