K-pop supergroup Monsta X made the day of love special for their Monbebes (the official name for their fandom) worldwide with the release of their much-anticipated all-English album All About Luv ,which explores all facets of a relationship from blooming romances to bitter deceit.
Braving the decision to make an entire album in English – a decision made previously by BoA (on her eponymous 2009 LP) and JYJ (The Beginning) a decade ago – Monsta X manages to stand out among their contemporaries by attempting this rare feat.
Working the distinct sonics of K-pop into an international language, the sleek 11-track production is another indication of the band’s unique versatility as powerful vocals and catchy rap verses co-exist in perfect harmony.
Opening with previously released single, ‘Who Do U Love’ [a reworked remix of the track by will.i.am also closes out the album], the group, who were still a septet on this album, trade verses in a sharp falsetto before letting rapper French Montana step in. Going one step ahead, the will.i.am remix, with its bass-heavy soundscape, compensates for Montana’s off-kilter verse -“Show me the ‘Titty Boi’ / 2 Chainz / Now the beef cookin’ like Gordon Ramsay”, using his signature droll to get everyone on the dance floor.
In a world where K-pop stars are packaged as the epitome of innocence, Monsta X is refreshing in their approach to love songs. Whether on the sugary sweet ‘Love U’, which explores young love and sex, the piano-led ballad ‘Misbehave’ which tells the unhealthy dynamics of relationship hinged on makeup sex, or on the gospel-esque ‘Got My Number’ -where the young men happily offer themselves up to be your side piece – Monsta X interrupt the regularly scheduled “like a K-pop virgin” programming to definitively say “don’t count on it!”, it’s unexpected and a very welcome change.
There is a raw honesty in everything Monsta X offers listeners on this album, as they masterfully manipulate the line between being confident players and vulnerable young men; lamenting the insecurity of being replaced by someone else in ‘Middle of the Night’ and narrating the all-too-relatable tale of a passive aggressive breakup on ‘Happy Without Me’.
The genuine emotion playing across their lyrics – without a single beat being lost in translation – in an impressive feat, there is not much to dislike about this valiant attempt at another language. Monsta X hold their own in a foreign language, only let down by their highly-anticipated collaboration with Pitbull ‘Beside U’, a track that lacks in flavour and punch compared to the remaining track list.
Even these lulls don’t take away from the fact that Monsta X has managed to break down barriers by incorporating what the world wants from them, a connection, without losing themselves in the process.
Having had a rough end to last year, All About Luv is the win that the now six-member band need as they set a new standard for themselves and others, venturing out on a new journey five years after their debut.