Unbeknown to many Americans, Korean pop music has been slowly and steadily taking over the world — and Monsta X are here to keep the genre’s global domination rolling forward.
Their first English album, ALL ABOUT LUV, was released aptly on Valentine’s Day. The boy band bring strong vocals and their signature style on the album that boasts catchy lyrics paired with electronic beats and R&B influences. Monsta X perfectly encapsulate the spectrum of being in love — from unrequited love, to puppy love and beyond. It’s a strong release that will no doubt bolster their upcoming tour throughout the United States this summer.
ALL ABOUT LUV starts out strong with opening track ‘Who Do U Love?‘ that features French Montana. The American rapper’s feature does a great job to introduce Monsta X to new audiences who will have heard his name and be eager to hear his part.
Montana’s rap is strong, but he’s never overshadowed by the boy band. “In the heat of the moment, when you’re all alone and out of breath/ What’s keepin’ you goin? / What do you see up in your head?/ When your eyes are closing/ Where do you wish you were, instead?” sings Jooheon and Shownu, setting up the song (and the album) and introducing the tensions that come with love that the band eagerly explores in the album.
The next track, ‘Love U‘ sees the band griping about having to change the way they express their love to be more radio-friendly. The way the song goes about it is so clever and enjoyable, and ‘Love U’ is a highlight of the album. “I really, really wanna love you, but I can’t say the word I want to…cause they won’t play it on the radio.” The tongue-in-cheek nature of acknowledging the things they would rather say but can’t does a great job of showing the passionate and sexual side of love in a way that’ still very much K-Pop Boy band friendly.
‘Happy Without Me‘ explores a more melancholy side of love. The boys acknowledge a love that’s departed, but they’re still hung up in the aftermath. Despite wanting the best for their ex, it’s anguishing to see their happiness. Clever, small lyric changes throughout the song illustrate the band’s pain beautifully: “Do you think about me sometimes? / ‘Cause I think about you sometimes,” in the song’s intro later changes to “I don’t think about you sometimes/ ‘Cause I think about you all the time.” With just the first three songs alone, Monsta X is able to take the listener on an emotional love rollercoaster, with every track being more enjoyable than the last.
‘Middle of the Night‘ is another strong track on the album that explores the desire to leave a partner but feeling conflicted by feelings for them. “I hate sleeping alone, I’m picking up the phone…” Jahooney laments on the song that’s soft and soulful. “Remember all the nights like this? Sleeping in the Motel 6/ We’d take all of the backstreets home/ Making sure your friends don’t know,” I.M. adds, bringing further depth to the song. As all of the members share their feelings about sneaking out at night, eager to do anything to keep their lover’s attention, their emotion and love is palpable.
‘She’s the One‘ arguably feels like the most American song on All About Luv with its catchy hook and radio-friendly relaxed vibes. “I could write a million songs, but I know it’s not enough/ ‘Cause she probably doesn’t even know this song’s about her,” brings the chorus to a close, making for beautiful transitions into verses and an especially powerful transition at the bridge. ‘She’s the One’ is all about those initial feelings of pure love and romance, and its production matches its bubblegum lyrics.
‘You Can’t Hold My Heart,’ on the other hand, is darker and grittier, exploring the ashes of a love that has burned out. “We made a city sound, had a fire but it’s dying down/ We tried to make a wave, but we got lost and swept away.” It’s the polar opposite of the sweet nature of ‘She’s the One,’ but its pure, raw emotion and beautiful lyrics make ‘You Can’t Hold My Heart’ the stronger track of the two — although it’s really just splitting hairs on an album this strong.
Where the album opens with a collaboration, it closes with one too, seeing the boys join forces with Pitbull for ‘Beside U.’ It’s everything you’d expect for a song featuring Pitbull. This is the most R&B and rap-heavy influenced song on the album. It’s also considerably the most K-Pop song on the album, where the rest of All About Luv has been more traditionally American-centered and friendly. All of the band sound perfectly at home on the track, and the song boasts powerful lyrics void of any repetition, rapid fire and quick-witted.
Overall, All About Luv is a strong English debut for Monsta X that beautifully captures what its like to be in all the stages love has to offer in life. Songs like ‘Love U,’ ‘Middle of the Night’ and ‘You Can’t Hold My Heart’ all show a band that is dynamic and versatile with clever lyrics all beautifully sang. The vocal range between the band is beautiful; each member brings unique depth in their vocal prowess on the tracks that all meld together in perfect harmony.
You can jam to All About Luv now on iTunes and Spotify. The album’s recent release gives you plenty of time to memorize the lyrics ahead of Monsta X’s US & Canada tour this summer. For full tour dates, visit their website. The band will be at Fairfax’s EagleBank arena on June 7 and tickets are available now.