Despite a general shift toward lighter, more ebullient fare in k-pop over the last year, Monsta X have never strayed too far from their hard-hitting sound. Last October’s bombastic Fighter was a red herring in their discography, but one that I personally enjoyed very much. With Beautiful (아름다워), they’re back to what most listeners love them for. And even though their sometimes-cacophonous production style isn’t always to my taste, there’s no denying that they pull it off well.
Beautiful wastes no time getting going, crashing in with a noisy fit of lurching electronics and heavy percussion as rappers Jooheon and I.M deliver a fierce rap that sets an aggressive tone. Though I appreciate the intense energy, the overwhelming production feels chaotic and somewhat off-putting. Luckily, this segment smooths out quickly as we enter the melodic verses. These are relatively short, but have an effective build that launches into the track’s strongest moment: its dramatic chorus.
This central refrain contrasts well with the Beautiful‘s more rambunctious moments. Sometimes Monsta X’s concepts feel so intent on displaying how badass they can be that the guys lose the opportunity to simply sing well. Beautiful‘s chorus isn’t particularly complex, but it’s framed by smart production that supports (without overshadowing) the vocals. I think it’s the most airy falsetto we’ve heard on a Monsta X title track yet, and it gives the song a refined appeal that feels like the natural next step for the group. The track is still a little too hodgepodge in places, but its best bits make a convincing case for why Monsta X is such a rising force.