Stray Kids have become a real toss-up group for me. I loved their debut mini album from start to finish, and still think that District 9 is one of the year’s top singles. However, the recently released I Am WHO has not clicked with me at all. Even title track My Pace, which initially earned a favorable review, has proven to be the opposite of a grower. I’m still interested to see where this group goes from here, but I’m a lot more hesitant than I was back in March.
Regardless of my opinion, Stray Kids have excelled at releasing a lot of material in a short amount of time. This extends to music videos, which have been abundant even for songs not actively promoted. Awkward Silence (갑자기 분위기 싸해질 필요 없잖아요) will be given limited promotion on music shows, and comes paired with a playful video that emphasizes the group’s youth and enhances the track’s freewheeling appeal.
The first time I heard the song, I was struck by its clever arrangement. The use of familiar sound effects is pretty novel, even if the production feels a little too pleased with its own wit. The track grooves over a jazzy mid-tempo with bursts of brass and a nimble sense of percussion. Its verses shine focus on the group’s rappers, leading to a more melodic pre-chorus that builds nicely to the bouncy hook. Silence’s cutesier asides feel a bit forced, as if JYP saw the success of a song like Pentagon’s Shine and asked the guys to throw in as many bits of fan service as they could. This gawkiness fits within Silence‘s musical conceit, but I wish rapper Changbin would quickly retire the odd gargled tone he’s adopted for this comeback. It sounds just as jarring and silly here as it did during My Pace‘s opening moments.