Monsta X have made a quick turnaround from last October’s Are You There, releasing another full album instead of a simple repackage. Back-to-back releases like this are exceedingly rare in K-pop, putting them right up there with the busiest of idol groups. As someone who usually prefers Monsta X b-sides to their title tracks, a new album is always welcome. We Are Here is heralded by the intense Alligator, and if you’re at all familiar with the group’s sound you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Alligator is another aggressive dance track, fusing the sonic bombast of Shoot Out with the staccato funk of Dramarama. It’s a well-calibrated middle ground, even if there are elements that keep the track from truly soaring. My least favorite aspect of Monsta X’s sound tends to be the over-the-top rapping (sorry, fans). Ninety-five percent of it is fine, but there’s inevitably an English-language moment so cringe-worthy that it takes me right out of the song. Shoot Out had “excuse me, I’m walkin’ like zombie,” but Alligator’s is even worse. I just can’t get behind “hello, I’m an alli-alligator,” delivered with ridiculous bluster at the start of verse two.
Other than this eye-rolling exclamation, Alligator is another solid single that’s right on brand for Monsta X. The synths are more prominent this time around, balancing the instrumental’s harder moments with a bit of dance floor pulse. The verses are uncluttered and restrained, giving spotlight to the group’s vocalists without devolving into the kind of moody mush so many boy groups fall into. The chorus feels a bit too simple and repetitive for its own good, but I like the breakneck pace of its delivery. There’s something very old-school K-pop about its mile-a-minute lyrical construction — hearkening back to the Yoo Young-Jin hook songs of the 2009-2011 era. An additional melodic element would have made this chorus really stand out, but the energy is strong either way. And with Monsta X, it’s all about energy. For better or worse, Alligator keeps that momentum going.