Earlier this month, the world famous K-pop group, Stray Kids, released their seventh Korean EP, MAXIDENT. The album’s name is a combination of the words ‘maximum’ and ‘accident’ or ‘incident’. According to group member Hyunjin, “it likens the emotions and feelings of love to a major incident.”
Known as fourth generation Kpop leaders, Stray Kids rose to fame after their formation on a reality show of the same name, officially debuting in 2018 with their album I AM NOT. Their most recent EP represents the eight member group’s foray into the idea of love for the first time; the boy group normally portrays different and usually darker songs, in line with their out-of-the-box concept. Initially, fans had panicked, thinking that the group was leaving behind their unique style and becoming more mainstream. However, when listening to the tracks, they were reassured that although the band may have switched things up to explore new themes, they stayed true to their origins.
The track list contains eight songs, mainly, their lead single, Case 143, which compares the initial feelings of love to a case which needs to be solved. 143 is a numerical code which translates to ‘I LOVE YOU’, based on the number of letters in each word. There are four other songs from the whole group, which includes the Korean version of previous hit Circus, from their Japanese album released in June this year.
Similar to one of their previous studio albums, IN LIFE, they also included a song from each subunit of the group: the self eponymous 3RACHA, by the rap and producing line of the group; Taste, by DANCERACHA; and Can’t Stop by VOCALRACHA, whose unit names are self explanatory.
My personal favourite song was Taste, by Felix, Hyunjin and Lee Know, who are the main dancers of the group. The soft and dark R&B atmosphere is perfect for closing your eyes and listening to their beautiful vocals in an empty room. Additionally, when watching their performance of the song at one of their concerts, you are shown exactly how they earned their titles of best dancers with the intense choreography.
Receiving outstanding feedback from critics, MAXIDENT entered Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart at No. 1, making them the only artist from any country to top the Billboard 200 with two different albums in 2022 (following their previous EP Oddinary, released in March). This makes them the second K-pop artist ever to top the Billboard 200 more than once, following BTS. Reviewers complimented that although it ‘explores romance deeply for the first time’, it ‘doesn't compromise Stray Kids' unique musical DNA in the process’.
In conclusion, as leaders of the fourth generation of Kpop, Stray Kids definitely did not disappoint with their release of MAXIDENT. Known for their highly experimental and creative tracks such their most well known songs God’s Menu, Thunderous and Maniac, they once again have broken free of the mould by producing a fresh and interesting take on love by adding their unique flavour.
They certainly have proven their slogan ‘Stray Kids everywhere all around the world’ right by attracting international fame, and now the whole world is eagerly anticipating what this talented boy group will release next.