You can tell a lot from the highlight of a K-pop album. When I listen to these teasers, I often find myself playing the “spot title track”. But this game is fraught with danger. How many times do I hear amazing samples in a highlight medley, only to realize that they are b-sides and that the title track itself is the same old sound that everyone else is selling? Such was the case with the highlight medley for Monsta X’s new mini album. Cut off Burning up, Breathe and And felt like instant hits while the title track Love sounded… fine.
At full listening, I’m happy to report it Love is better than “fine”, though it lacks the knockout punch that would have made it a classic title track. The song is based on the funky pop sound from last year’s standout Player, and is strongest when it adheres to that energy. The verses have a great drive and deliver a lively salvo of percussion. From here, the beat falls out and we enter into an evocative chorus. I really like the production here – especially synth and brass – but a stronger melody would have helped to compensate for the sudden change of 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 a setback than a big, confident refrain. Then, Love swings back in his synth-heap fantasy. This production works better as a post-choir than a pre-choir – especially when the saxophone starts. It all builds up to an exciting finale that further develops Loves fragmented charm. Even after several listens, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. But I definitely nod.