You can tell a lot from a K-pop album’s highlight medley. When listening to these teasers, I often find myself playing “spot the title track.” But, this game is fraught with peril. How many times do I hear fantastic samples in a highlight medley, only to realize they’re b-sides and the title track itself is the same old sound everyone else is peddling? Such was the case with the highlight medley for Monsta X’s new mini album. Clips of Burning Up, Breathe and And felt like instant hits, while title track Love sounded… fine.
On full listen, I’m happy to report that Love is better than “fine,” though it lacks the knockout punch that would’ve made it a classic title track. The song builds upon the funky pop sound of last year’s standout Gambler, and is strongest when it adheres to that energy. The verses have great drive, delivering a lively volley of percussion. From here, the beat drops out and we enter an atmospheric pre-chorus. I really like the production here – especially the synth and brass – but a stronger melody would have helped compensate for the sudden shift in energy.
This concern continues into the chorus, which restores the percussion but plays things safe when it comes to melody. The hook is catchy in a piecemeal way – more of an aside than a big, confident refrain. Then, Love swerves back into its synth-drenched fantasia. This production works better as a post-chorus than a pre-chorus – especially when the saxophone kicks in. It all builds to a rousing finale, further developing Love’s fragmented charm. Even after several listens, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. But, I’m certainly nodding along.