Monsta-X's 'Phenomenon' album review: K-pop idols go from strength to strength with latest Japanese release

The group's third record follows their brilliant 'Take 2 - We Are Here', released in February

Chris Gillett |

Latest Articles

Why are there protests in the US and what is #BlackLivesMatter?

Earlier this year, K-pop group Monsta X delivered one of the best records of the year with their third album Take 2 – We Are Here. The seven-piece have now set their sights on the Japanese market with their second regional release, Phenomenon.

Where Take 2 was pumped full  of energetic EDM bangers, Phenomenon shows a different stylistic approach, as the boys vie for a more aggressive tone with gangsta rap-filled verses.

Openers X-Phenomenon and Livin’ It Up indicate this shift with gritty, repetitive low-synth riffs, creating the perfect backing for their voices to cut through; but both choruses see a clunky drop in dynamic and tempo, essentially losing the momentum that was building.

From here, though, Monsta X really break into their stride, with highlights My Beast and Flash Back using low brass blasts to full effect, carving out some memorable hooks among the minimal R’n’B beats. 

EXO sub-unit prove they can hold their own on What A Life

Monsta X also deliver some Japanese versions of two of their biggest hits: Alligator and Shoot Out. Although they feel a little out of tune with the general tone of the rest of the album – following the EDM-led style of previous releases – their infectious energy is undeniable, and likely to be just as successful as the original versions. 

Closer Carry On is even more pop-centric and radio-friendly. The tropical pop keyboard chords, Clean Bandit-style mono-synth melodies, and late 90s euro-pop mash-up is the sign of a group in full flourish. Pheneomenon is a record that goes from strength to strength.