Stray Kids have always been an idol group with a heavy focus on hip-hop, and their new repackaged album leans into that hard. I tend to prefer when their music takes an electronic bent, so I’m having a hard time connecting with many of the new songs. But true to form, the guys are unveiling multiple music videos to flesh out their promotions. And with Ex (미친 놈), they’ve chosen one of the more melodic tracks to spotlight.
However, this isn’t the kind of galvanizing, anthemic melody found on highlights like Haven. Ex is a subdued hip-hop ballad, driven by mood and emotion. Right from the start, the surging guitar and synths paint a tense atmosphere. The instrumental grows from here, climaxing in a near-psychedelic wave during the chorus. I like this approach, and feel that the textures could be even more prominent or build to a more cathartic finale. Still, Ex is first and foremost a showcase for Stray Kids’ performance. There isn’t much rap to be found at all, but much of the melody has a hip-hop flow.
This style fits the group well, while allowing an opportunity for their vocalists to shine. The arrangement it dramatic, with plenty of layered moments that give the vocals a larger-than-life appeal. However, Ex’s melody is a bit too mopey for me. I understand that this isn’t supposed to be a jaunty pop song, but it’s also not the type of music I’m usually in the mood for. So, while I can appreciate its strengths, you’ll find me playing Back Door far more often.