In a month lacking K-pop releases, the Universe app is offering some of July’s few big-name “comebacks.” That’s a pretty sad state of affairs, especially since the full music videos aren’t even made available outside the app. Regardless, it’s always nice to hear from Monsta X – even more so on the heels of their spectacular June single Gambler. I hope the group feels buoyed by having more creative control over their discography. We’ll see what musical fruit that bears down the line. For now, the outsourced Kiss Or Death feels like a placeholder.

This song embraces many Monsta X tropes I dislike. It’s noisy and piecemeal, with each segment operating independent of the others. Kiss Or Death lacks the flowing momentum that really sucks me into a track. Instead, it lurches here and there, delivering a few highlights but mostly regurgitating sounds the group has already explored. This isn’t unusual when it comes to Universe releases. I mean, why bury your best work on an app most listeners aren’t even using?

Kiss Or Death’s bridge brings a dose of satisfying synth, building an effective sense of drama as we move toward the final chorus. Apart from that moment, the rest of the song is “in one ear, out the other.” Compared to something as dynamic as Gambler, Kiss Or Death runs on autopilot. The guys don’t even sound all that engaged. The longer this Universe app roles out, the less enthused I am. I hope the groups are at least collecting a nice paycheck for their effort.

Hooks 7
Production 7
Longevity 7
Bias 7


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Publisher: Nick