Welcome to the first 2023 album review of the year! Yes, I know it is May. And yes, this might technically not be the first 2023 album release to be reviewed this year. But it is the official start a more focused look at the 2023 releases. Starting my ‘focused look at 2023 releases’ is MONSTA X’s REASON, the group’s 12th mini-album, which was released in early January 2023. It is also the group’s first release since most of the members renewed their contracts with Starship Entertainment (with the exception of I.M, who chose to look elsewhere for solo promotions, whilst continuing activities with the rest of the group). The main single off the mini-album is Beautiful Liar, which also dropped on the same day. REASON follows the release of their SHAPE OF LOVE mini-album from 2022.
1. Beautiful Liar (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review for Beautiful Liar. (8.5/10)
2. Daydream – Daydream features a creepy and haunting instrumentation, a complete shakeup if you were expecting something daydreamy. It is quite unsettling, but the track stands out because of this. As for the members, they do a decent job. I like that they do lean into the eerie vibes the song gives, telling us their desire to not wake up and realize their lover had left them. But I was expecting them to really kick Daydream up a notch. While they do go in that direction at certain moments, it doesn’t get Daydream anywhere, which is a bit of a disappointment. (7/10)
3. Crescendo (춤사위) – Crescendo is your typical hip-hop track with a traditional Korean twist to the instrumentation. It is a really cool mash of traditional and modern, with both sides feeling very balanced and harmonious with another (as far as a hip-hop track can go). There was never a dull moment in the song. Alongside the instrumentation, MONSTA X kills it with the rapping and vocals, always bringing an unexpected surprise as the song progresses. A personal highlight on the album. (10/10)
4. LONE RANGER – LONE RANGER incorporates a Wild West flair, giving the song a strong sense of character from the get-go. I like how it is more subtle than other songs that have the same influence, who tend to have it more in the forefront and in-your-face usually. The flair is paired with a relentless stomping beat, giving LONE RANGER intensity and propels the song forward. The vocals are very clean and deliver the catchy hooks effortlessly. Kihyun ended the song off amazingly with his ad-lib. The rappers of MONSTA X also do an amazing job as well, with Joohoney’s second verse rap sequence having a bit of a grow and an impact oomph in the song. (9/10)
5. Deny – Deny tones down the album with a smoother approach and a jazzier undertone to its instrumentation. The song falls more into R&B territory. I like the glow that radiates from the vocalists, while the rapping gives Deny a really sleek vibe. It was an enjoyable track to listen to, overall. (8/10)
6. It’s Alright (괜찮아) – Ending on a happier tone, the album ends with the single It’s Alright where they talk about going back to their lover. The track keeps true to MONSTA X’s hip-hop roots. But this time around, they go with an old-school 90s vibe. And this makes the track so likeable. The melodies in this track are amazing, especially the English lines in the choruses. There is some really nice piano work in the background, which just adds a classy tone to the song. (9/10)