Stray Kids show off new side with thrilling EP ‘MAXIDENT’


Photo from Wikipedia

Digital cover of Stray Kids’ MAXIDENT.

Simrah Azmi, Staff Writer

In the world of K-pop, where it can be difficult to find artists whose music truly has an identity of their own, it’s always refreshing to see groups who write and produce their own songs. One such group is Stray Kids, who released their latest eight-song extended play MAXIDENT on Friday, Oct. 7, and proved once again their incredible ability to distinguish their music from everyone else’s.

Stray Kids always manages to create new pieces that build on their creativity while retaining their characteristic attitude and confidence. Ever since their release earlier this year, “Maniac”, which strayed from the aggressive, beat-drop heavy style they’re known for, the anticipation for their next comeback skyrocketed.

One giant pink heart and a whole lot of concept photos later, Stray Kids released MAXIDENT, their first-ever release that centers around love. Any initial doubts about how they’d handle this concept have since been erased, as MAXIDENT sees Stray Kids staying true to themselves while venturing into territory they have not explored before, delivering their emotions in a way that is passionate and anything but subtle.

The album’s lead single “Case 143” is completely different from the conventional love song. With its clever lyrics, rap-heavy verses, dreamy pre-chorus, addictive, descending chorus, and explosive refrain at the end, this song is entertaining from start to finish.

The drill track “3RACHA,” performed by Stray Kids’ composing and producing subunit 3Racha (made up of members Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han), is an instant sensation. Opening with “One, two, 3RACHA, get spotlight,” a reference to the first words of 3Racha’s song “Intro,” each member gets their own verse boasting 3Racha’s work ethic and success over gritty synths, until they come together for a powerful ending. “3RACHA” pays homage to 3Racha’s history while clapping back at their haters.

The deceptively cheerful “Chill” is written by Han, who is known for his heartbreakingly deep lyrics. Despite its snappy piano loop and buoyant melody, it’s actually a breakup song about two parties who gradually lose interest in each other before agreeing to end their relationship. Vocalist I.N sings, “When I say ‘I’ll get out of your way’/Rather than feeling sad, I rejoice,” taking on a carefree tone. The combination of “Chill”’s invigorating sound and profound lyrics cements it as one of MAXIDENT‘s best songs.

“Give Me Your TMI”, a funky EDM track and my personal favorite off this EP, details Stray Kids’ desire to learn more about the person they are interested in. A sudden post-verse speed-up leads into a guitar-driven chorus, which is followed by the song’s centerpiece, a glitchy beat drop punctuated by an adamant, “Yeah, I just want to know”. The lively bridge and intense breakdown at the end represent the group’s desperation and make the song even more memorable.

The album continues with the sensual R&B track “Taste” by Stray Kids’ performance unit, DanceRacha, and the pop-rock mood booster “Can’t Stop” by the group’s vocal unit, VocalRacha. “Super Board,” characterized by its bold bass and beat, provides some playful energy. MAXIDENT closes out vibrantly with a Korean rendition of Stray Kids’ latest Japanese release, the festive hip-hop track “Circus.” 

Overall, MAXIDENT is undoubtedly one of Stray Kids’ best, most cohesive releases yet. All the songs fit into the album’s overarching theme despite their assortment of styles and moods, and I wouldn’t skip a single one. Stray Kids are continuing to do what they do best: injecting their wit and personality into phenomenal music to make it even better. Anyone looking for something unique, compelling, and fun to listen to will love MAXIDENT.