MONSTA X have persevered through the challenges they’ve faced since their first all-English album, All About Luv, was reviewed on POParazzi. The band was on the brink of breaking through to the mainstream in America like some of their other K-Pop counterparts a few years ago when the pandemic hit, and more recently they have temporarily lost another member (and the band’s leader, no less), Shownu, to military enlistment in South Korea.
With their newly released mini-album, Reason, Monsta X have a lot to prove when it comes to the band’s success despite shifting lineups. Luckily for the Monstas, each member brings their own unique star power to the group, and although Shownu will surely be missed, his absence does not stop MONSTA X from releasing enjoyable tracks and music videos.
REASON opens with ‘Beautiful Liar’, a track that sonically sounds like BTS’s ‘Fake Love’ or ATEEZ’s ‘THANXX.’ It’s what you’d come to expect from MONSTA X: dark, gritty, with a driving beat that pulsates over romantic and lovelorn lyrics.
I.M.’s ability to rap and create clever wordplays while effortlessly switching between Korean and English is apparent on ‘Beautiful Liar,’ and his verses are some of the track’s strongest. Minhyuk also shines here, giving him more opportunities to be center stage than in some of MONSTA X’s previous releases.
The track’s music video pairs nicely with the track, driving the song’s lyrics with a hyper, well-polished and choreographed music video that utilizes color palettes to portray the song’s message with reds for passion and romance, with blacks and whites showcasing a struggle and conflict within.
REASON continues with ‘Daydream,’ a post-breakup song lamenting love lost and the yearning desire for life to continue like a daydream. It’s certainly a lot slower of a pace from the adrenaline-filled ‘Beautiful Liar,’ focusing more on MONSTA X’s vocal strengths, while the next track ‘Crescendo’ is more rap-driven.
The band has always stood out thanks to Joohoney and I.M.’s bold raps, which makes ‘Crescendo’ feel like the better of these two tracks. However, ‘Crescendo’ makes its effort to lyrically titillate and be sexy, without really hitting that mark as well as some of their past songs (‘Love Killa’ and ‘Rodeo’ coming to mind).
‘Lone Ranger’ finds MONSTA X stepping back into familiar territory, following their unique formula for a banger. I.M. brings the sex appeal on the track’s first verse, with Hyungwon easing the listener into the chorus where Minhyuk and Kihyun’s high notes feel like such an opposite to I.M.’s deep, husky introduction that ‘Lone Ranger’ truly feels like a roller coaster ride. Joohoney starts the formula all over again on the track’s second verse, culminating in one of REASON’s best.
REASON begins to draw to a close with ‘Deny’, a track which feels more typical for the K-Pop world, with lyrics revolving around a one-sided relationship and thinking about this kind of love for days on end. It’s an enjoyable listen, but if not for the band’s unique voices, this could easily be any other group of idols singing this track.
With its closing track, ‘It’s Alright’, REASON wraps up with another song about revisiting old love and finding one’s way back to that kind of love. Like ‘Deny,’ the track feels like another typical K-pop offering, but doesn’t really bring anything new or innovative to the table like fans of MONSTA X would come to expect.
Overall, REASON feels more like it could have been condensed down to ‘Beautiful LIar’ with ‘Lone Ranger’ as a B-Side, with the remaining tracks adding some padding to the mini-album. There’s no doubt MONSTA X are experiencing some growing pains as the group works to adjust its sound and visuals without its leader. With all of that considered, REASON is an enjoyable listen. It’s highlights are superb, and even the weaker tracks are still fine offerings from the band, despite not reaching the highs of some of their previous releases.