Review by Cheryl at SeoulBeats.com. (Lightly edited.)
Over the years, we’ve witnessed a greater interest and positive response towards the act of incorporating storyline concepts in K-pop groups and their artistic releases, and Monsta X isn’t a stranger to creative serial K-pop releases. They’ve strategically linked their previous releases with elaborate storylines, this time focusing on the theme of connection with The Connect: Dejavu.
Their new album also marks the end of the coming-of-age story that unfolded in their previous album The Code, where they focused on the theme of time. According to Korea Herald, the seven-piece boy band said that they’re bonded by a spiritual connection and after hopping about different years as time travelers, they’re now reunited as a full group for this album. Keen to be part of the creative production, Jooheon and I.M also wrote the lyrics for all tracks in the album, while Wonho composed and wrote “If Only.”
It’s evident that the boys understand their strengths and aren’t afraid to foray into foreign fields to reinvent themselves as artists and enhance their signature style. This album has a promising premise and contains the group’s upgraded style with the addition of new musical influences.
The seven-track album is fronted by “Jealousy,” a brew of retro-punk R&B groove, future pop, and trap. The smooth R&B-tinged dance track significantly deviates from Monsta X’s initial hip-hop influences and is a testament to their flair for the theatrical and dramatic.
The insanely catchy background vocals are killer here. The “ye-ye-ye” hook by main vocalist Kihyun is most likely the slickest part of the song, reining listeners in almost instantly, with a hue of elusiveness and seduction alongside the atmospheric, expansive instrumental. The buoyant delivery of the vocals adds great texture and is one of the quaintest touches Monsta X has added to their music.
The repetition of “jealousy” throughout the piece has its own charm that will leave you riveted. I also had a good laugh during Wonho’s part before the second chorus where he sings, “Why are you looking at Shownu? You’re making me jealous.”
“Destroyer” starts off slow and develops into a dramatic and hip-hop tinged banger. Here, we get to enjoy dynamic rapping by I.M and Jooheon who simultaneously bounce off each other. Kihyun’s belting on the words “destroyer” and “rewind” in the chorus is also a standout here, driving a majority of the song.
Lyrically, it’s dense with symbolism; it talks about ambitiously yearning to conquer fate and time to reconnect with a loved one, tying both concepts of time and connection together.
3. 폭우 (Fallin')
“Fallin’” rests heavily on the EDM-influenced pop and mainstream deephouse trend with its noisy synths, playful rapping, auto-tuned pitch-lowered vocals, and electronic instrumental chorus. It’s a fun song and catchy enough for you to want to nod along with the rhythm.
4. 미쳤으니까 (Crazy in Love)
After the first few hard-hitting tracks, the album progressively shifts in energy with “Crazy in Love.” This is your typical saccharine-induced love track: a love story about a guy who laments about how he’s crazy in love, crazy over a girl.
5. Lost in the Dream
As the title suggests, “Lost in the Dream” is atmospherically dreamy with elevated waves of passion. Lyrically strong, it falls just slightly behind “Destroyer” in being the standout from this album. Together with their dulcet vocal tones, the lyrics and instrumental track adroitly paint an aural cosmic landscape.
This may be a really prophetic dream
Every time it repeats, my wishes in one hundred days of dreaming
With the sharp crescent moon, there are wolf cries in my ears
At the same time it starts again, your voice is searching for me
6. If Only
This is Wonho’s self-composed piece. It joins Monsta X’s history of soft pop B-sides that many fans adore.
Strategically placed as the last track, Jooheon’s “Special” is an aggressively culminating piece that adorns a trap and brass sound, a familiar style found in their previous releases like “Trespass” and “Rush.” On Song Eun Yi & Kim Sook’s Unnies Radio, Jooheon mentioned that he has been working on the piece since his trainee days.