On January 9, K-pop boy group Monsta X returned with their 12th mini-album, REASON. The group explore the complexity of love through the title track “Beautiful Liar” and showcase their versatility in the mini-album’s five songs. As the group’s leader, SHOWNU, is currently completing his mandatory military service, MINHYUK, KIHYUN, I.M, JOOHONEY, and HYUNGWON are back as a quintet for the third time, following the release of the mini-album SHAPE OF LOVE in April 2022.
Monsta X’s discography can be compared to a romance novel, with each song a different chapter that reveals a deeper insight into the relationship. The group’s 2020 single “Love Killa” depicts the alluring beginning of a relationship, whilst the 2022 single “LOVE” captures a love that has become consuming. That said, the story is far from complete. In the title track “Beautiful Liar,” the group experiences a new stage of romance — their love has become toxic.
The ad-libs stand out as a clear representation of the struggle of a toxic relationship since they display the true feelings of the members alongside the painful lyrics. “Your lie that completely destroyed me (But I want it more, yeah) / My blood vessels full of your lies go black (But I want it more, yeah),” they sing.
Despite love being a recurrent theme in their songs, Monsta X present each chapter with a unique sound. “Beautiful Liar” is the first time the group has ventured into the punk-rock genre, but they executed the concept masterfully. The song’s heavy electric guitar riffs and booming drums support its anguish lyrics.
The music video dramatically captures the song’s message. Members I.M and HYUNGWON, who are physically chained up, represent the sense of being unable to escape a relationship. Dressed in black and red leather co-ords, the group dance boldly amidst a blaze, reminiscent of the burning passion portrayed in the lyrics.
From Love to Power
“Daydream” completely shifts the mood of the mini-album. The unpredictability of the instrumental and the members’ haunting vocals blend to create an eerie atmosphere. The song explores a love that occurs only in the group’s dreams. “I don’t wanna wake / You just be with me / In my daydream,” they sing. The abrupt ending of the track symbolizes the group’s awakening as they are unable to sing of love that does not exist in their reality.
The track “Crescendo” showcases Monsta X at their very best. True to the title, the song begins softly with the traditional Korean instrument geomungo and KIHYUN’s sensuous vocals. The instrumental gradually incorporates a taepyeongso sound to create a dramatic atmosphere. Whilst “Daydream” showcases the group’s vocal prowess, “Crescendo” serves as a reminder to listeners of their rap skills. JOOHONEY and I.M — the group’s formidable rap duo — go back-to-back in the second verse, asserting their authority. I.M states, “Don’t push me / Feedback for my satisfaction rather than your expectations.” They also pass the mic to HYUNGWON who makes his rapping debut.
Back to the Start
Beginning with an electric guitar, “LONE RANGER,” is reminiscent of the title track but also contains a pop element with the incorporation of an upbeat, rhythmic drum. This makes the song the perfect segue between the heavier songs at the beginning of the album to the brighter tracks toward the end. The group boast sultry vocals in the chorus, entrancing listeners with the lyric “baby let me take you home.” As KIHYUN’s solo debut “VOYAGER” had a subtle rock influence, it is no surprise that his vocals stand out, particularly as he sings the final note.
“Deny” depicts a person attempting to conceal their emotions despite being deeply in love. HYUNGWON gracefully sings, “I try to look away,” in Korean, but when he proclaims, “I’m lying to myself,” in English, he lets listeners know his genuine feelings. Both I.M and JOOHONEY are credited as songwriters of the track. Offering a change from the angsty vibe of “Beautiful Liar,” this pop song adopts a more lighthearted tone.
All For Monbebe
Even if you sometimes feel lost, it doesn’t mean that you won’t find your way back, especially to a person that you love. Monsta X’s sentimental track, “IT’S ALRIGHT,” is a reminder of this message as they brightly sing in English, “I’m gonna make it back to you.” The song is a gift from Monsta X to their fans — known as Monbebe — which is a custom that has emerged with each album. In their previous mini-album, Shape of Love, the group professed their love for Monbebe through the track, “사랑한다.” This time, Monsta X reflect on the fond memories that they have made with Monbebe over the years.
Elevating Their Sound
Although REASON marks Monsta X’s 12th mini-album and the group is nearing its eighth anniversary, this does not mean that they are immune to change. With prior releases that ranged from the hip-hop song “Shoot Out” to the synth-pop hit “FANTASIA,” the group has experimented with a variety of styles. True musical chameleons, Monsta X presented a fresh rock sound with the title track “Beautiful Liar,” whilst also staying true to themselves. It is clear that listeners respect their innovative approach to music as the mini-album has topped the iTunes album chart in 13 countries.
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Want more Monsta X? Check out our coverage of the group’s previous mini-album, SHAPE of LOVE, here!