Initially starting off these MXM reviews a little on the fence, “Checkmate” alone has almost changed my mind into liking this duo. I’m interested in what More Than Ever sounds like collectively and can’t help but wonder if there’s going to be some songs I add to my K-Pop playlist on Spotify. There’s only one way to find out!
ALBUM: More Than Ever
More Than Ever was released 14 August 2018, MXMs first full length album, with title tracks “Ya Ya Ya” and “Checkmate”. Like I mentioned at the start of the review, I’ve been on the fence with this duo – they have had some good elements to their songs but I have yet to find one song that made my curiosity turn into 100% interest. “Checkmate” has already shown me a great starting point so I’m hoping this album holds some absolute gems that’ll be right up my street.
From first track “Knock Knock” I am completely amazed – this song is the kind of gem I was hoping for. I’m not too sure if it’s because I understand what the duo is about a little more but this song ticks all the boxes for me. It does have similar sounds to the two title songs but what I think changed things is the heavy bass and the impressive vocals. Melodically, this song shows good progression in all the ways I enjoy and appreciate. The chorus also had moments of silence which was a nice touch. All in all, this song is fantastic and exactly what I wanted.
I’ve already given my review on second track “Checkmate” – see (here) for the review if you’re interested – and I like how it follows on straight after “Knock Knock”. I can clearly tell the link between both songs and I enjoy the storytelling though it is a more upbeat and pop sounding version than the previous. I still enjoy it – but maybe not as much as “Knock Knock”.
“Show Me Your Love” is a bit of a step back from the first two songs while still staying within the same vibe. Though it doesn’t have the heavy bass to it, the catchiness of the hook and the electro-brass elements introduced in the chorus more than make up for it.
“Ya Ya Ya” is another shift in direction as it is more pop sounding than the rest of the album. The bass in the verses relate to the other songs which does make sense now that I’m listening to the album in full and I am finding it more enjoyable now than when I first listened to it. To read my initial reaction to the MV and song see (here).
Fifth track “Hoping That You’d Love Me” is a lot slower than the previous tracks. The stand out parts for this song is the rap. For those who have followed me for a while should know what I look for in a rap voice so I’m happy with the rap verses in this song. I do wish the song had a little bit more melodically but I do understand why the song is this way. I do enjoy the last 30 seconds of the song – the break down and change of beat was nice and almost wish this part was longer.
“Don’t Stop Me Now” is an upbeat pop song and does sound a little more summery – a vibe they haven’t yet shown in the album. It’s also more electronic than the rest of the songs as well. I’ve always been vocal about my dislike of the electronic genre and this song sits on the fence for me. I think I’d like it more if there was a bigger and more prominent change in intensity throughout but I do like the rap verses a lot.
“Come Closer” moves towards the slower side of things. I have listed in my previous MXM reviews that I enjoy the vocalist a lot but for this song I’m a little more iffy about it. I have a feeling it’s because of the music itself. While it does show a little more melody progression than some of the other songs I found the music itself to be a little boring and nothing really stands out to me.
Eighth track “Without U” is again a slow song but quickly changes to slow electronic. The progression is nice in the chorus and I like it a lot. I felt like this song was going to go in the same direction as “Come Closer” but the switch up in the chorus was a nice surprise. While I do like the music more than the vocal or rap sections it’s still a step in the right direction for me. It’s a slow builder which immediately draws my attention.
“Another Level” is more hip-hop based and I like it a lot. Though it does have roots in hip hop bass, it incorporates enough electronic elements that I’m not bored – actually, this song wakes me up a little bit. I am let down by the chorus, though. For such a hard-hitting sound in the verses I am left a little up in the air with why they decided to go in such a strange direction. Clearly, I enjoy the verses a lot more than the chorus but this song is far from being bad.
Tenth track “Dawn” is a slower song than the previous but still manages to stay interesting with it’s odd upbeat moments. To me, this song sounds like a couple of their other songs so I’m curious to why they have such similar sounding songs on one album. It does feature a different element I haven’t heard on this album yet and I can only describe it as KARD-esque. (For KARD fans, you’ll know what I mean. The sound that group is synonymously known for is heard throughout the chorus of this song.) Because they used such a different sound, I like it a little more. But again, it sounds like other songs on the album so I’m a little upset.
“Naturally Curly” is the first solo of the album – performed by Donghyun, the vocalist. I enjoy the acoustic nature and the use of the guitar along with the percussive additions. It turns folk-pop during the chorus which is nice. Like I’ve mentioned before I do enjoy his voice. He has a nice tone and I wish I could hear what he sounds like singing full voice. I particularly like his voice in the bridge.
The second solo of the album – by rapper Youngmin – is the twelfth track “Can’t Take My Eyes Off”. This song also features Kanto. I like the laid back and relaxed vibe of this song and it highlights the nice cadence of Youngmin’s voice. Having a featuring artist was a good move for this song as it keeps my interest. I do enjoy the vocal moments during the prechorus and chorus. This song is my favourite of the two solo’s purely for the changes of melody and instrumental sections. It would also have to be one of the standout tracks for this album though doesn’t take “Knock Knock” off it’s pedestal, it does try though.
“Gone Cold” has a similar vibe to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off” but does have better instrumentation. I particularly like the use of an electric bass during the prechorus. I do wish the chorus did switch up a little more but the rap verse after the first chorus is nice enough I don’t pay too much attention to it. The vocal layering in the chorus is nice as well.
Last track “Love Me Now” starts off slow and very empty with little music to support the vocals. It is another slow builder so my attention is well and truly stolen. The build is nice and does match the verses well. I can’t help but see the link between this song and the first track and can’t help but wish some of the tracks in-between were a little closer to these songs.
I’m a little all over the place with this album – there were a few really good songs but the majority of them fell short for me. To me, this album didn’t need to be this long and I think it would’ve been a little better if they’d cut out a few tracks. In order for me to enjoy an album, my interest needs to be snatched and I felt that most of the songs didn’t quite get there. Though I am happy that I’ve listened to it, I’m unfortunately back to being on the fence towards this duo.
Don’t get me wrong, “Knock Knock” is fantastic but I can’t help but wish there was more song progression and variety for the rest of the album.
My rating: 5.5/10
What did you think about this album? Did you have any stand out tracks or were there any songs that fell short for you? Let me know down below!
Also, remember all that was written above are my opinions based on first listen. For me, my enjoyment of a song or album changes depending on how many times I hear it so these opinions may change in the future. If you’d like to share your own opinions or have anything to say about what I mentioned above, leave some comments. My page is an open forum for any and all opinions, within reason. I have no problem with opposing views but I’m an adult – behave accordingly.