Song Review: Stray Kids – Levanter

Over the course of their two-year history, Stay Kids’ releases have existed as a pair of trilogies. Last year, the I Am series opened with the dramatic District 9 and concluded with the more subdued I Am YOU. Though the genre elements have changed, the group’s 2019 Clé trilogy has followed almost the same trajectory, introducing itself with a big, bombastic showstopper and closing with an angsty hip-hop ballad.

The difference, of course, is that Clé has pushed Stray Kids’ sound in more experimental directions. The guys are growing as composers, and becoming more adventurous. Musically, Levanter (바람) is the least interesting of their three main 2019 comebacks, but a few smart production touches elevate it above typical slow-burn boy group fodder. Unfortunately, these touches aren’t spread evenly throughout the track. Levanter’s verses are largely forgettable, positioning lethargic melody over an uninspired trap-infused beat.

It’s not until we reach the pre-chorus that Levanter starts to show its hand. A bit of electronic distortion recalls the daring nature of Side Effects as the melody becomes more anthemic. Then, the chorus hits with rock guitar, echoing some of the elements that made last year’s District 9 so formidable. While the arrangement here feels a little too plodding, I love the chorused vocal effect that echoes each line. It’s a punchy, theatrical way to end the Clé era, and feels like something that Ateez would proudly add to their repertoire. Levanter’s dynamic bridge offers a too-short instrumental breakdown that hints at a more energetic take on the track. As a fan of Stray Kids’ upbeat material, I would’ve loved for Levanter to harness more of that intensity. But as a big, emotive finale to a successful trilogy, the song does its job well.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

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8 thoughts on “Song Review: Stray Kids – Levanter

  1. I found myself pretty disappointed with Double Knot and Astronaut. Maybe that’s why I’m so pleased with this one. I’m in kind of a weird place with this one, it’s far from my favorite Stray Kids track and I see multiple pieces of the track that are just “good” and not “great”—but at the same time, I’m very, very happy with how it turned out. Stray Kids’ future has been somewhat precarious these last couple months, and the song is relieving more than anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I swear I had to play it three times through, because with all the year end stuff going on at work, the first plays were basic kpop background noise.

    Listening through the third time: it’s aiight. Good not great. Stans will be thrilled but I don’t think it will gain them new fans. I’ll probably download it anyway.

    Those deep bass voices (Felix, plus Seungmin + Bangchan at times) are killers. Usually for baritones and basses, they either become the rappers or affect an artifical hoarse timbre. These are so resonant. It is becoming such a hallmark for the Stray Kids as the DK/Seunngkwan combo are for Seventeen. In my dreams, I imagine Stray Kids covering Big Bang “Lets not fall in love”.

    I also like the chorus “Don’t Care” and “I Know” shouts refrain on the chorus. It mimics the ad lib high cheerleader shouts structure that has become overused with girl groups, but down an octave or two. They coulda shoulda have played it up even more to make an arena song.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know how Nick does his Random Shuffle Reviews?
    I swear I just clicked shuffle on my ipod, and as if on cue ACE “Under Cover” played on just to remind me again of its fantastic presence.


  4. Disappointed with Double Knot and disappointed with Astronaut, I came with low expectations for Levanter and was not disappointed (well, in the bad way I mean)
    In my opinion even if the song is not really bad (I wouldn’t praise it but it’s OK), it feels so odd next to the rest of SKZ discography (even their B-sides). This is mostly due to the absence of proper rap, the very high range of the song and the absence of melancholic/angsty/harsh sound. I feel like this would have suited other groups but feels out of place for SKZ.
    Anyway, they experimented a lot from an album to the other, so my personal hope is that the next album won’t keep the same style


  5. Now that the Double Knot, Astronaut, and Levanter trio are out I just can’t pinpoint which one I like best. Each of these songs are in the same quality range for me, so it all comes down to the mood. Do I want to bang my head to Double Knot? Do I want the upbeat fun of Astronaut? Or do I need the emotional sing song hooks of Levanter?

    Also after listening to the album I was somehow still able to pick a buried treasure even with three tracks already released. Every time I listen to this album I can’t get over STOP. Stray Kids really knew how to build up hype by releasing Road Not Taken in June and its instrumental is just so interesting!

    P.S. If you play Road Not Taken and Stop back to back the songs connect. Crazy what Chan did with that track.


  6. Music is a medium that transcends emotion. I am emotionally moved by Levanter every time I listen to it. I bet when the kids singing their parts were emotional too. This song is the kids’ way to conclude the two years since debut and as OT9. It is also a declaration for the future as OT8. The choreo comprises moves from many their prior choreos. The theme is wind and water that let each past choreo move smoothly into another. Technically this song is not a 10. However, for STAYs and for SKZ, this song is symbolic and healing. It also makes me stand behind these kids more.


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