Convoluted k-pop release schedules have now gotten to the point where an entire album can be considered “pre-debut.” Such is the case with Stray Kids’ Mixtape, which includes buzz single Hellevator and six other tracks featured in their variety survival series. I’m curious if the group will tackle drastically different material upon their official debut, as this collection of songs already feels like it’s establishing a signature sound.
The boisterous Grrr (총량의 법칙) is not one of Stray Kids’ more melodic tracks, but as a performance piece it was probably a smart choice to promote the album. The aspect I appreciate most when it comes to their music is the inclusion of heavy rock guitar as a base for their hype songs. Grrr‘s format itself has been done to death, but by injecting that hard rock crunch into the instrumental’s more trendy EDM elements, it feels much more fresh. If anything, I hope the group pursues this sound further in the future. Rock elements have been sorely missing from k-pop over the past couple of years.
When it comes to hooks, Grrr is primarily a spotlight for the group’s rappers. The chorus is a barely-there bit of posturing that could use a more forceful arrangement to compete with the bombastic production surrounding it. Similar to Hellevator, the song would benefit from a greater balance between rap and melody. A dynamite hook would have really pushed it over the edge. But even without that vital element, Grrr gets by on the sheer force of its raucous energy.