Stray Kids Sets Their Pace in I AM WHO
JYP Entertainment’s rookie boy group Stray Kids has made their first comeback with “My Pace,” a song that challenges all previous notions you may have had about them. In their debut and pre-debut albums, their sound had very strong dark undertones, as heard in “Hellevator,” “Grr” and “District 9.” But this time, Stray Kids is back to prove that they have the talent to cover more than just that type of concept.
The Title: “My Pace”
The initial reaction to “My Pace” may be that of slight dismay; the very opening of the song sounds far more mainstream than “District 9” with its boyband sound. Let me be clear that that statement is not a criticism but simply an observation. It actually captures your attention as you realize that the boys are bringing something new to the table this time around.
The hip-hop focused group brings back their best trait with Han going off as he always does. Then the melody shifts back to something more familiar and totally different from the opening. The mixed melodies from the pop-punk influence and hip-hop driven intensity is definitely refreshing and not something easily pulled off, but it is somehow just so quintessentially Stray Kids.
The visuals are an interesting choice, to say the least. The cinematography is definitely influenced by the recent trend of bright, neon colors alongside darker scenes. The fashion is certainly edgy in the sense that it may seem very off to some while stylish to others. The theme of youthfulness is very apparent and the outfits fit the song and theme very well in that sense. Still, I don’t know what Bang Chan did to deserve that hair.
All around, the song is a solid title release that shows the musical versatility of the group while highlighting their strengths, especially in the rap department (I can never wait for Changbin’s verse, honestly). The choreography is definitely very unique and memorable and ties the whole thing together.
The concept of I Am Who seems to be the opposite side of debut album I Am Not, with a focus on brighter colors and youthfulness as opposed to the dark intensity seen in “District 9.” Intro “WHO” has a more somber tone that highlights the sort of youthful struggle for identity that Stray Kids often portray.
“Voices” follows that same somber mood, with an intense melody and hard-hitting rap. Much like the shift from intro “WHO” to “My Pace,” “Question” follows “Voices” and has a lighter overall tone and melody, shifting the feeling of the album once again. “Question” has a more upbeat hip-hop influence while “Voices” is more R&B focused.
The shifting pattern is broken with “불면증,” which follows the lighter feeling of “Question” but with a more EDM musical influence. It focuses more on the vocalists as well. After that, “M.I.A” has a slower pace than all of the other tracks, making it the most relaxing one on the album. The track definitely draws from Caribbean influences with its slower island vibe. The album concludes with the bouncy and jazzy “갑자기 분위기 싸해질 필요 없잖아요,” which may be the brightest track on the entire project.
I Am Who definitely has a brighter feel overall from previous albums, even with the interchanging emotionally intense tracks within it. Overall, the album is very solid and every track has its own charm that makes it enjoyable to listen to. This release continues to prove that Stray Kids are a group of multi talented boys.