[This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of allkpop.]
1. The Tortoise and the Hare
2. Back Door
3. B Me
6. We Go (Bang Chan, Changbin, HAN)
7. Wow (Lee Know, Hyunjin, Felix)
8. My Universe (Seungmin, I.N feat. Changbin)
9. God's Menu
13. Another Day
STRAY Kids is back with a repackaged album entitled, IN LIFE, which includes all the tracks from their first full-length studio album, as well as 8 brand new songs. With so many new songs full of charisma, my first question was why the group didn't choose to release a new album over a re-package. For purposes of this article, I will be reviewing the 8 new tracks from IN LIFE.
The album begins with the introductory track, "The Tortoise and the Hare" which definitely sets the tone for the album's intense nature. There is a certain up-and-down with this track that actually made me rather intrigued to listen to the rest of the album given the theatrical features of the song. Immediately after, the album takes us into the group's title, "Back Door". The song is loud, aggressive, and the classic Stray Kids attitude. I feel that though this song is well-made production wise, I wish I could see some variety from Stray Kids beyond what is typically expected of them.
Track 3, "B Me" continues the heavy electronic sound. The tempo is slower, however, I do find the synthesizers to be a little high on the treble on this track that makes it pang in a slightly unpleasant way. "Any" is my personal favorite from this release, as it has the catchiest sound that instantly makes you dance. On top of that, the autotune is deliberate and not overdone! Which I find is a difficult task in K-Pop, as songs quickly go from rhythmic to just LOUD very easily.
Track 5, "Ex" is the group's ballad song, but of course, the group manages to deliver it with their unique twist. Personally, I find Stray Kids best concepts to be their louder ones, so the ballad felt strange after hearing so many upbeat songs. The tracklist wasn't my favorite for this release. The last three songs that are new on this album are the sub-unit tracks that they've finally gifted to STAY. "We Go", "Wow" and "My Universe" are great change-ups on the album's overall sound with the three sub-units well divided.
The new releases are some of Stray Kids most unique and charismatic songs. However, I do find the overall sound to be just a bit too loud for my taste. The songs are well-produced, but the tracks themselves do have a certain quality that makes them feel just a little too aggressive for my everyday listening. I find this release to be something I have to be in the mood to listen to.
"Back Door" is one of the most dynamic MVs to come out of 2020 despite the song not being my favorite. The music video is visually appealing and the MV itself is ultra-high quality. I can clearly see where JYP is funneling money because this video is guaranteed to please STAY around the world. It's been a while since I've seen a performance-based MV from the group, so I feel that their dynamic choreography really carried through to the MV. In particular, Felix's parts really stand out! My one problem with the MV is just slightly shaky camera work, but it took a few watches to really notice that!
MV Score: 8
Album Score: 6.7