Longguo dropped his second mini-album titled, Mono Diary. Longguo is a Chinese singer brought to fame by the survival show Produce 101 which produced the now-disbanded group named JBJ. Since then, Longguo has participated in the duo group, Longguo & Shihyun, along with his own solo projects.

Whether in the duo or on his own, it was clear that Longguo was trying to establish himself as an R&B singer. On top of delivering a cohesive album with Mono Diary, Longguo ventures into other genres and musical styles showing his versatility as an artist. Although it would have been best if he stayed completely away from tropical beats, Longguo is still able to showcase his unique abilities as both a singer and rapper.

“Mono”, a prefix meaning “alone” or “one”, ties into the concept of loneliness that runs through every song. From feeling alone in the music industry to experiencing the changing seasons alone, Longguo’s lyrics show a struggle with being by yourself. The lyrics of these songs also sound extremely personal and detailed as if they might have come from Longguo’s own life.

“Work” is the most personal song on the album and the only one not about a relationship. In “Work,” Longguo sings about the insecurities of working in the music industry. The persona of the song admits they wanted to be better than others and would constantly compare himself to others. Ultimately, having such high standards created a sense of loneliness. However, in the second verse, the persona comes to terms with accepting who he is. Instead, he works to enjoy himself rather than working towards popularity. The song itself is a mid-tempo track with a tropical melody. It is a song with nice character development and shares with fans the personal struggles that go into breaking into the K-pop industry:

Now I know this is me
Money doesn’t make me happy by my standards
Now I know this is me
I don’t work to be famous

The next three songs on the album are about feeling lonely either while in a relationship or after the end of one. “Irresistible” is the lead single of the album and another mid-tempo tropical song. After listening to “Work,” it would have been best if Longguo stuck with a different genre, especially with one that was not so generic. Funny enough, the album also offers the instrumental version of this song on the album which further establishes its generic-sounding beat.

With a title like, “Irresistible” you would think the song is about seduction. However, the song is actually about wanting their romantic partner to leave them alone. The song sounds like a toxic or broken relationship in which the persona of the song confesses they no longer feel love for their significant other. It is almost difficult to see why it’s titled “Irresistible” but ultimately the persona of the song realizes he rather not want to be alone. It is as if they fear loneliness versus being in an unhappy relationship. Longguo shows off another one of his skills by doing his own rap in the song. He harmonizes with himself creating a steady flow and nice addition to the song. Musically, though, the song still has a cliche beat but lyrically there’s a deeper story:

Leave it alone leave it alone
please please
Actually I need you
Because I can’t stand alone
At the end of an unknown emotion
I have you

“What Can I Say” has an orchestral track that sounds like a dark lullaby. The song is the highlight of the album with its unique tune that helps create a sense of anxiety. The song builds up with the use of strings while Longguo shows off his falsetto in the bridge of the song. The track is about being in a relationship with someone who you know does not want to be with you anymore. The persona of the song is anxiously awaiting for their romantic partner to end the relationship:

Uneasy silence
Tighten my neck again
I know your heart but I
I pretend I don’t know yet

Lastly, Longguo leads us to the new season with “Autumn.” The melody is a mid-tempo ballad with an acoustic tune. Just listening to the song’s melody, you would not think it was about loneliness. However, once again, Longguo sings about being alone and possibly remembering a break-up in autumn. While this song could also be about a general sadness one can feel with the colder season, there are hints to suggest the persona of the song is reminiscing about a former partner. Longguo shows his falsetto skills again both in the verses and chorus of the song. The track is the least interesting song but Longguo’s vocals are definitely something to check out.

Mono Diary is a cohesive album that does, in fact, sound like a diary about loneliness. Each song has a unique personality with personas that are complicated and struggle with their own thoughts. It is also great to see Longguo challenge himself with other genres to demonstrate his versatility. With the exception of “Autumn,” the other two songs could have also been great songs to release as the lead singles. Longguo has amazing abilities as a singer demonstrated with his use of falsettos. He also showed us another side by doing his own rapping on the album. While it was not perfect, Longguo still shows us that he is growing better as an artist and he will definitely be someone to look out for in K-pop.

(Youtube, lyrics via Genius, images via Choon Entertainment.)