[Album Review] Clé: Levanter (5th Mini Album) – Stray Kids

Stray Kids is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Male Choreography in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Miroh, Side Effects, Double Knot and Astronaut are also eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Stray Kids, click here to vote if you haven’t before voting closes next Tuesday!

The second last album review of the year focuses on Stray Kids latest mini-album, Clé: Levanter. This third part has brought their Clé series to a close, following the release of Clé: Miroh (featuring the title track Miroh) and Clé: Yellow Wood (featuring the title track Side Effects). To help raise anticipation for the new release, Stray Kids released Double Knot in October and Astronaut in November, before dropping Levanter in December (all links below). This is also the first album release without Woojin, who left unexpected in November, which delayed the comeback to December. Let’s have a deeper listen to the album and its new tracks that we haven’t heard at all yet.

Clé: Levanter Album Cover

1. STOP – A commanding title to a very bold start to the mini-album. I am already sold. And it is even better as the song delivers intensity, energy and suspense through its fast tempo beat. To me, it feels dirty but in a good way. I also liked how they amp all those elements up by including that brief pause in the instrumentation just prior to the drop. Something that I did notice was that I associated the sound and vibe straight away to Stray Kids, which is definitely a good sign, as this means Stray Kids have a sound (at least, to me). The rapping and vocal work were equally superb. I am just not keen on the abrupt ending, though I had a feeling it was coming.  (9.5/10)

2. Double Knot (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Double Knot. (9/10)

3. Levanter (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Levanter. (9/10)

4. Booster – The group throws punches with Booster and they land these punches perfectly each time. It brings back the more powerful synths and definitely packed a lot of energy within its instrumental composition. I do think it could have been bolder, as it did feel a little tame. I found the vocals to be more melodic, with the melody in the chorus reminding me of ‘00s tracks. The rapping is a little more robust and gives it that roughness that I have come to expect with Stray Kids. (8/10)

6. Astronaut (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Astronaut. (9/10)

7. Sunshine Sunshine is a ballad with a typical Stray Kids touch. And quite a soothing one at certain moments. Ballads tend to draw out more of a delicate side of a group. And this was definitely apparent when it came to the vocal sections of the song. The rapping and autotune is that twist I mentioned, and it prevented that delicate side to fully flourish. I wished that maybe they kept the autotune to a minimum so that Sunshine can be a little more impactful. I did like the pulsing beat and appreciate their execution for this song, overall. (7.5/10)

8. You Can STAY – For those who don’t know, the group’s fandom name is STAYs. And given the emphasis of the word STAY in the title, You Can Stay is essentially a track for their fans, thanking them for making their members better. It is a nice track. I find it particularly refreshing, but that might be me experiencing sweltering temperatures in the past week. I did like the brightness that came from the track, thanks to the vibrant and bouncy instrumental. I particularly like the ‘uh-like’ synth in the instrumental, helping make the song memorable. (8/10)

9. Mixtape #5 – In the past, I never reviewed their Mixtape tracks. However, that changed earlier in the year when I sat down to review them as part of the Yellow Wood album review. So, I made the executive decision to also review them on their original albums from now on. It essentially is a song abut the colder weather and some of the lyrics is about their outfit. There is a fun touch to the band instrumentation, and it felt jazzy in some cases. I also found the track to be quite lively, which is something different in the season of emotions. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

Clé: Levanter Teaser Image

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