Now onto the new releases of the week. There were a few comebacks that need to be covered, but I am starting off with the latest one. Well, because it is Stray Kids. That’s right, Stray Kids made their comeback yesterday with the new title track CASE 143 and their 7th mini-album, MAXIDENT. This comeback follows their MANIAC (Korean) and Circus (Japanese – yet to be reviewed) comeback from earlier in the year and their newest mixtape release, Time Out.
CASE 143 was a mildly confusing song at first. But the more listens I gave it, the more interesting and less confusing it became. CASE 143 is primarily a playful and fun track, but it also taps into the heavy hip-hop sound we got in MANIAC at times. The two don’t usually go together, but I am not surprised that Stray Kids made it work. The choruses is where CASE 143 is most playful and fun, with a descending melody that is, without a doubt, an addictive feature of the overall song. I also enjoyed how the lyrics were delivered in a syllable-paced manner, which added to the addictiveness of chorus and CASE 143. It does give off a repetitive vibe that might dull CASE 143 in the long run, but I am not too worried about this yet. The verses is where CASE 143 takes on that heavy hip-hop influence, which is pretty synonymous with Stray Kids. I don’t have any issues with the very contrasting sides of the song, simply because the lighter feel of the chorus allows the rappers to really be slightly more playful than usual with their rap delivery in the verses. Take Chan’s sequence in the second verse as an (extreme) example, which ended up gearing towards the lighter and perky side of CASE 143. Aside the rapping, CASE 143 also features some decent vocal moments that we don’t usually get in a Stray Kids title track. The vocal melodies in the pre-chorus and bridge were much smoother than usual and works well with the lighthearted side of CASE 143. Lee Know’s lines in the bridge in particular feel so lovely. The last aspect of the song that I really enjoyed was that entire final sequence (i.e. from the 3 minute mark of the music video), where CASE 143 pretty much falls into place and finishes off in a satisfying manner. Overall, a slightly different take on Stray Kids, but still a fun and addictive song.
Stray Kids continues to battle big monsters in this music video. Their Thunderous days saw them fight the Sound Monster. In this video, the police version of Stray Kids (the more serious side of the group) investigates and tracks down the Heart Monsters (not entirely sure if there is a name for them). These Heart Monsters appear adorable, but they seem to take over their host’s minds (i.e., the version of Stray Kids in more colourful clothing) by weakening them to be cute and also cause havoc (i.e., causing Felix to flip the table and the place ends up on fire and some late night graffiti). The police gets pretty far into their investigations and tracking down the liar of the Monsters, unplugging the power source of the Heart Monsters. But it appears the Heart Monsters have taken full control of the all versions of the members in the video. The appearance of the group at the very end (i.e. when they crash out the video/screen) maintains the serious side of the group via their black outfits, but the way the members carry themselves are lighter and carefree, which suggests that the Heart Monsters also got to the police version of the group. Aside from the plotline, the video features amazing post-production (i.e., editing and CGI), which adds that cute and playful side to the video. A great video, overall.
The energy and powerful side of the choreography peaks towards the end of the song (at the similar part mentioned above) and this serves as my favourite part of the whole performance. On top of that, I quite liked the waves in the earlier choruses and the 2PM Heartbeat reference in the choreography.
Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10