Monsta X are back with the anticipated “Dramarama,” and it’s their most impressive title track yet. Bit by bit, they have been leaving behind the fluster and bluster of early songs like “Trespass” and “Stuck” in favor of more sophisticated sounds for the past several comebacks. “Dramarama” pushes the group even further into new territory, while making sure to provide fans with plenty of familiar-sounding material in the seven-track mini-album “The Code.”
Most of the Monsta X trademarks that we have come to expect from the group are present in “Dramarama”—the dramatic production style, the dark melodies, the intense delivery of the rap and vocals. But rather than fitting this all into a heavy EDM beat as past title tracks have, “Dramarama” layers all these dark elements over a funky, bouncing beat and playful vocal hook (“Dramama-ramama-ramama-hey”) the likes of which we’ve never seen from Monsta X before. The result is an intriguing interaction between light and dark sounds that is odd at first, but becomes irresistibly catchy after hearing the chorus once or twice. Past Monsta X titles have been good, but this new level of sonic complexity puts “Dramarama” over the top. Besides, there’s no shortage of rap and vocal talent in Monsta X, and this shows on “Dramarama” as much as or more than on other releases.
If long-time fans were missing the boisterous EDM instrumental while listening to “Dramarama,” they need look no further than the second track on “The Code,” the very Monsta X-sounding “Now or Never.” The bass drives a lush electronic chorus, complete with leaping synths and some satisfying background harmonies. “X” and “Deja Vu” also showed up with the typical aggressive Monsta X sound. “Deja Vu” was particularly interesting because it threw in some unexpected major chords before the final chorus, which contributed a touch of allure to the buildup and helped drive home the final drop.
Other songs left an impression on me more by virtue of their details. “In Time” and “From Zero” each incorporate ringing percussion noises such as bells and xylophones. These sounds add a unique twinkling effect that does not appear in K-pop often, affecting the mood of the song differently depending on its genre. Whereas the sparkly percussion makes the soft, mid-tempo “In Time” feel snowy and homey, it lends a starry, expansive atmosphere to the tropical “From Zero.” The latter, with its club beat and creative falsetto melody, is one of the best songs on the album. Though the strange rhythm in the chorus of “Tropical Night” was a little inaccessible, its rap verses stand out as especially impressive. I don’t hesitate to say that “The Code” is Monsta X’s best release yet. If their music continues to improve in future comebacks as it has recently, I’ll be a card-carrying fan within months.
DRAMARAMA: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Hooray, a bop!
Take a look at Monsta X’s “Dramarama” MV below: