“Shoot Out” was a little nostalgic for me as it took me back to early MONSTA X and the style of music that first got me interested in them years ago. I do have to warn you all that this review is going to be extremely honest and if you’re not fond of reading other peoples opinions, you should leave now. I’m going to be overly critical of this album so as long as you know that then let’s continue.
ARTIST: MONSTA X
ALBUM: Take 1 Are You There
Take 1 Are You There was released 22 October 2018 with title track “Shoot Out”. After over a year since their last one, this album marks their second full album release. The Connect was, in my opinion, their strongest album to date so I’m excited to see how much they’ve grown with this album and if they’ve decided to go in a different direction.
I did state in the intro I will be extremely critical – which I am with all my reviews but I get a little more hesitant about expressing opinions when it’s my favourite groups. If I say I don’t like a song, it’s how I feel after listening to it only once. If I say I don’t like a song, it doesn’t mean I now hate the group. I know K-Pop stans tend to totally write someone off for expressing a somewhat ‘negative’ opinion but that will not happen here. I try and and word my opinion without being overly negative so again, if you don’t want to see an opinion that’s different than yours – stop reading.
Their first track “Intro: Are You There” is really nice and I wish the track was longer. It does sound like the song they used for some of their promotional things, especially Kihyun’s random vocalisations. Or maybe it reminds me of a different song…actually, now I don’t know. I love how they have an intro – it’s an album decision I love seeing and wished more artists and groups would so the same. I like how it’s not too intense and just perfectly sets the listener up for the next song.
Second track “Underwater” is very dreamy sounding, almost hypnotic. The chorus is really nice and melodical but the song almost flips after the first chorus into a really intense and confusing instrumental. I like how the song takes its time which makes me just go along for the ride. It may be too early to say this but I think this is one of my favourite MONSTA X songs ever. The song is more upbeat than what I was expecting as I thought it would be more like “Destroyer” or “Lost In A Dream”. Jooheon’s voice totally suffocated me, I don’t know if it’s because of his voice or the actual switch of the music but when he was rapping I found it hard to breathe. Aside from how strange and different this song is, the pre-chorus and chorus is my favourite part. The harmonies gave me goosebumps and I’ve never heard them do this in such a big way so I applaud them trying something different.
Lyrically, this song is sad and beautiful as it describes going back to the time of a break up and associating that time with being underwater or suffocated. It’s a beautiful metaphor! This song is the only song I’ll be mentioning the lyrics for but in doing so shows how much I love the song!
“As soon as you talked about the end
I’m still frozen at that time
The reason I lived was to cover my breath
it raises up to my chin…
Get me out I’m under water
I’m all alone, it’s cold here
Save me still under water
Extend your heart, give me your breath…
After the waves crash and crash the surface of the water
My body didn’t move and it was cold
The moon shines on me and wraps around me
Cloudy over here, slow slow
Swarming like a heart
The water makes me go crazy
The changin hoo
I want to grab onto my eyes’ that were freed
Your face that looks transparent…”
Their third and title track “Shoot Out” is great. While my opinions have changed with this song, see my original opinion (here).
This song is still good, the MV even better than we all expected, but I feel like it’s a step back for their title tracks. Think about it. “Dramarama” and “Jealousy” were in a direction they’ve never attempted before yet were able to pull it off as they still had that MONSTA X sound while doing so. “Shoot Out” to me sounds like early MONSTA X but I was expecting they’d go in a new direction again. I don’t hate the song, I don’t discredit them for not reaching my expectations, it’s just something I thought of after I’d listened to it a dozen times.
Fourth track “Heart Attack” was one of two tracks I had high expectations for from the album teaser. I don’t know what it was about it but it sounded like something I’d like and Jooheon was doing the most in the small sliver we were able to hear. This song is fast-paced and almost entirely percussive which allows a lot of space between beats for vocals and raps. The song is quite light in regards to melody but heavy with the bass but I really like the harmonies in the pre-chorus. I don’t like the song as much as I thought I would. It felt like there was no progression with melody which I look forward to in a song but I wouldn’t say I hate the song, I just like it in a different way than expected. (Correct me if I’m wrong but did Hyungwon only get a couple lines in this song??)
Fifth track “I Do Love U” is a light song and on the slower side. It does remind me of early MONSTA X songs but I can’t think of any specific titles off the top of my head. Hyungwon and Shownu in this song gave me goosebumps! The pre-chorus and the high note in the chorus are my favourite parts about this song. Lyrically this is just a giant love letter so the summery vibe throughout the song only emphasises this. The emptiness of this song is another new direction for the group which I welcome with open arms.
“Mohae”. Ohhh our maknae I.M did well to finally get his song on an album and I’m so proud of him. This is the second track I was anticipating and I wasn’t let down at all. From the small stem I heard from the teaser, this song doesn’t sound like what I thought it would. Nor was I expecting the lyrics to be as lovely. From the intro, the song seems like it has a little more substance to the instrumentation and is actually the quality I was expecting from the album. The chorus is catchy with a nice melody and a nice beat change during the rap-lines moments. Jooheon and I.M singing in the bridge was a stand out as well as Hyungwon… HYUNGWON!!!! (In case you can’t tell, Hyungwon has my favourite voice in MONSTA X and I love when it gets used.) And the harmony through the last chorus… W O W ! I don’t know who did it but god!
“Oh My” sounds exactly like I thought it would – super heavy bass with a house rhythm. It isn’t as dark as I was expecting but I enjoy the variety of genres and beats used so it does remind me of “Falling” in that aspect. The song also doesn’t drop the way I thought it would nor in the place I thought it would. I.Ms been killing me this album and this song is no different so I couldn’t help but be upset his verse wasn’t as long as I wanted it to be. I do like the melody brought in through the pre-chorus as well because it doesn’t go in the direction I thought it would.
Eighth track “Myself” is, as far as I know, the song they’re promoting with. From the get go the song is so different. I’m only thirty seconds through and I already know they’ve never done a song like this before. This song is a perfect representation of how they’re trying something different and executing it perfectly. A nice ambiance is introduced which gives off a hypnotising trance-like moment while also being a little melancholic. I.M sing/rapping is perfection and fits the song so well. The backing vocals in this song are absolutely ridiculous and I had chills throughout the whole thing. They use harmonies as the melody!… W H A T ?! I like the ups and downs of the vocals through the entire thing as it makes the song a little more interesting. The build through Jooheon’s verse is really nice and it reminds me of “Lost In a Dream”. It turns towards a more house-focused song towards the end of the song which was nice for variety sake. Wonho had a lot of parts in this song which was nice.
“By My Side” is yet another bias group featuring the phrase ‘love yourself’ which I love! I can hear an organ which makes me feel a little uncomfortable – cue flash backs of Catholic schooling… – but it fits the overall vibe. It’s another dreamy sounding song while still maintaining my attention. Is this a fan song? Because I’m getting that kind of feel from reading the lyrics. It’s super sweet and has moments of being so cute that my heart hurts. The ‘sorry’ lyrics are haunting me, though. Like, what are you sorry for?!
Last track “Spotlight” is so amazing but it’s so weird hearing this song in Korean. Personally, I do like the Japanese version more. The rap-line sound so savage in Japanese so I guess that’s what I was missing from this version. It’s still amazing though.
So I have a lot of feelings about this album. A lot of it is good but a lot is not so good. I’ll start off with the not so good…
While I do appreciate the album, I don’t see how it connects to their last two albums and there’s lot of songs that don’t show a lot of growth. I love how they’re able to continue to bring out the whole ‘MONSTA X’ sound but I personally prefer how they push the boundaries on the kinds of music they can make. A lot of the songs on this album were a little average for me and I walked away feeling a little confused to why some songs were included on the album – some of them just didn’t fit with each other. Maybe I’m more critical with this album because of how much I loved The Connect.
In saying that, there are songs that I LOVE. “Underwater”, “Mohae” and “Myself” are absolute standouts for me and I wish there was more experimentation with the rest of the tracks. I love how, even though there were songs that fell flat for me, there were elements within them that were new for the group. The songs I’m not fond of aren’t because they’re necessarily bad songs, it’s just based on personal preference. The songs I do love have the power to totally overpower the ones I don’t, that’s how much I love them.
I did notice that Kihyun, Wonho and Shownu had a lot of parts during this album and I know Kihyun was used a lot for the chorus’. The harmonising on this album is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know if they’ve been practicing this a lot but GOD! They sounded so good and it was used in the right places.
Overall, this album was above average for me. I was hoping it was going to be more but I am in no way going to stop liking the group or stop hyping the shit out of them. They’ve worked so hard this year so I’m happy if they’re happy.
How did you like the album? Were there any songs that stood out for you? How do you feel about what I said in this review? Let me know down below or leave me a message on Twitter! Remember, this is my opinion. If you disagree with what I’ve said and want to build a dialogue, go ahead, but I will not tolerate any nastiness or attacking. Keep things adult, please!