As popular as Monsta X have become, the members haven’t released much solo music. And when it comes to individual name recognition, I hadn’t expected Kihyun to get the push. As the main vocal, he’s more than deserving of solo spotlight. And rather than pursue the predictable route of a balladeer, debut single Voyager embraces rock music.
This is a very welcome development, and turns out to be a great match for Kihyun’s vocals. It reminds me of when Infinite’s Sungkyu first went solo, though Kihyun offers a different spin on the genre. Voyager is upbeat and funky, culminating in a driving chorus that crystallizes the song’s punchy energy. To use a somewhat dated reference, it’s like a modern reinvention of the material on Maroon 5’s debut album. It’s a little jazzy in places, but rests most heavily on its upbeat groove.
I think I appreciate Voyager more than I enjoy it. The verses are my highlight– especially the opening where Kihyun’s voice glides over a spare funk-rock beat. He’s got such a dynamic style, accentuated by the nimble percussion. As the song continues, the arrangement begins to feel less thrilling and I’m reminded why I never really liked that old Maroon 5 music in the first place! Kihyun gives it his all (especially in the bridge), but I wish Voyager had a beefier lower end. A song like this needs a killer bassline to anchor its energy. At times, the song feels a little flimsy – more coffeeshop than rock show. Still, it’s a fun surprise and a peek at what Kihyun might deliver in the future.