Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
There are so many K-pop introduction tracks that I wish were full songs. There’s nothing worse than hearing a galvanizing, dynamic intro only to have it cut off just as you were getting into the sound. Such was the case with Stray Kids’ Road Not Taken – a one-and-a-half minute track that opened the second part of their Clé series. Without any album teasers this time around, I had no idea that the song would be expanded to a full three minutes on new release Levanter.
As someone who has fallen in love with the group’s embrace of the psytrance genre, I couldn’t be happier with this decision. Road Not Taken was such a great teaser on Yellow Wood, and the complete version fulfills the potential I knew was there. Title track Levanter is a strong piece of anthemic, rock-infused hip-hop, but I would’ve loved to hear something like Stop promoted during this ballad-heavy month.
Like both Miroh and Side Effects, Stop is just as much instrumental as it is melody, but its refrain is potent and the production is fantastic. The pulsing electronic breakdown makes for an infectious centerpiece, and the bombastic distortion that underlines the verses is even more exciting. Plus, Stop offers the kind of rapid-fire rapping that is probably my favorite aspect of Stray Kids’ music. I’m not sure that it has quite enough meat on its bones to function as a full comeback track, but nobody else is tackling this style right now and the group would be wise to capitalize on that fact.
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