Wonho has been through alot in the past year. After leaving Monsta X, he’s been the subject of many a controversy and the fact that he’s been able to bounce back so strongly is just great to see. Open Mind marks the release of his debut album, which began teasing its release last month with the searing balladry of Losing You. That’s a song that’s only gotten more potent over further listens and while it was more a slow burn success, Open Mind offers a more instant package.
As solid as Losing You was, It failed to really give me an idea of Wonho the artist. Open Mind fixes that and then some. The track adheres strongly to the kind of dark, near sensual dance pop popularised by artists like Taemin and the results are very strong. Right from its opening moments, Open Mind bounds forward on an infectious groove. It’s a sound that fits his personality to a tee and while similar to some other artists, gives me a great idea of Wonho’s own musical sensibilities. The production here is fantastic, with the touches of rhythm guitar in the pre-chorus acting as one of the tracks more subtle standouts.
I also love how despite its more derivative soundscape, Open Mind isn’t afraid to experiment with structure. Its wordless, instrumental first chorus was initially disappointing but works wonders in the context of the rest of the track. I love how the following chorus’ incorporate a more substantial melody and while it may not be the most knock it out of the park refrain, feels perfectly suited to the tracks unshakable groove. Wonho adds to this, providing a fantastic performance that just helps transcend the track to new heights. While in Monsta X I never really payed attention to his abilities as a vocalist but given his own spotlight, he shines like an absolute star. And that’s what really makes Open Mind such a joy.
Final Rating: 8.5/10