Note: This is an updated post to reflect the repackage of The Clan, Part 2.5: Beautiful.

We are not to ashamed to admit that we were not feeling Monsta X when they dropped Trespass and Rush.  While we really like Hero (the non-Broadcast Version), everything else was really cringy and tryhard.  Then they started The Clan series and we started to pay attention.  They were getting their act together and the music seemed to come out of this den of chaos and begin to form a sound that was unique to them.

Which brings us here.

TCP25B is the culmination of path of that has seen increased success and musical growth from the group.  Their songs are still a little busy, but not so busy that they are hard to listen to.  Back in 2015, a song like Oi would have made our skippable list and, now, we’re debating putting it on our favorites.  Even a song like Calm Down, which annoyed us in the beginning, won us over some by the time the bridge hit.  They have found a way to incorporate all that energy they have in their production in a constructive way that doesn’t turn the listener off and have found the line between intricate and overproduced, stepping over it less and less.

But what really impresses us is the vocals.  We hear those harmonies and the leads finding that equilibrium that makes a song catchy as hell without being too simple too remember or too complicated to enjoy and sing along to.  The rappers have found that bombastic sound that works for more than just one mode of track but still gives you fire every time they lay down a verse.  We hear the additional adlibs and the runs that are starting to be included and it is a marked improvement over what we have gotten from them in the past.  We only had hints of this in the earlier part of the trilogy, but it was worth waiting for.

And those harmonies on Incomparable…some of the best we have ever heard this group lay down.

We even have to compliment them on the lyrics this time around.  We got very little nonsense and some of the things that we didn’t understand seem to be more from cultural separation than word salads to make things sound good.

This is a solid effort all around and we are so happy for them.  Good work, guy; take a bow!

We actually had a hard time narrowing it down this time, but our favorite tracks are Beautiful, Incomparable, Need U, and All I Do.  The most skippable tracks are Miss You and Calm Down.

Update: With the repackage of the album now available, we had to take a listen to the new songs.  While we were a little disappointed that they only added two new tracks (and we liked the cover art better for the original release), we are not disappointed with the quality of the tracks.  Shine Forever is right up there with the rest of the album, well produced with good vocals and that same lyrical improvement.

What really impressed us, though, was Gravity.  To say that we never expected Monsta X to want to do a pseudo-jazz track like this–let alone make it sound so good–is an understatement.  With a more striped down production, we are really able to hear what they are capable of vocally and it shatters all the ideas that they needed that overproduction in the early days to make themselves work.  We don’t expect them to do a ton more songs that sound like this in the near future (because this just isn’t their normal style and seems like a one-off more than a directional shift), it was nice to hear them step out of their comfort zones and up to the challenge.

We’re adding both Shine Forever and Gravity to our favorite tracks.