[Album Review] SKZ-Replay (3rd Compilation Album) – Stray Kids (Part. 1)

As mentioned in my review for FAM song review yesterday, I will be posting an album review for SKZ-Replay. This is a compilation album, consisting of a total of 25 tracks. It is led by the Korean version of FAM, which also dropped as a single on the same day at the end of December 2022 as the album release. Due to the length of this album, it is split into two halves – an A-Side and a B-Side. A-Side consist of 10 songs – the single FAM, a single unofficially released by Stray Kids in a Youtube video and 8 never-heard-before solo singles from each member. B-Side consists of the remaining 15 songs, all of which have previously been released as part of SKZ-RECORD or SKZ-PLAYER web-series from a few years back. These songs have never been released digitally until the release of this album.

For the purposes of this album review, I will be posting the album review in three parts – Part 1 (this post) will focus on the A-Side. Part 2 will focus on the first half of the B-Side, and Part 3 will focus on the second half of the B-Side. Also, there was no teaser images for this compilation album. So I have gone through and selected images from past promotions to serve as the featured and teaser images for the album review.

SKZ-Replay Album Cover

1. FAM (Korean Version) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for FAM (Korean Version). (8/10)

2. Connected (Bangchan Solo) – Bangchan’s Connected is a decent all-English EDM track. The choruses were by far the most likeable moments within Connected, bringing some cool synths and effects to the song. This is in stark contrast to the verses, which didn’t have much going on and was pretty forgettable to me. Even the rapping in the second verse didn’t ping me as a strong element. On the other hand, Bangchan does a good job with his vocals. He shows promise, delving into falsettos during one part of the song. However, I think there is a possibility to strengthen the song with a more memorable hook or melody. (7/10)

3. Limbo (나지막이) (Lee Know Solo)Limbo is the main reason why I decided to write an album review for SKZ-Replay. I was (and still am) impressed by Lee Know’s vocals in this track, mainly because he usually isn’t known his vocals in Stray Kids’ usual releases. However, the push he gives himself in the choruses strongly shows off his vocals and makes the choruses a highlight for me in Limbo. I wished there was more to the instrumental and the verses, as they were more on the typical side and lacked anything interesting. But despite that, it doesn’t change the fact that Limbo is a standout for me thanks to Lee Know himself. (8.5/10)

4. DOODLE (Changbin Solo)DOODLE was a bit of a weird one for me. I remember thinking that Changbin’s solo was going to be an immature and childish sounding track, just based on the title alone. But surprisingly, it ends up being a heavy hip-hop track that shows Changbin’s rapping skills. The track itself has the message of not being set to the rules and being carefree, like a doodle we make on the page. His delivery was quite powerful, and adds to the heaviness of the song. There are some moments where it was quite textured and the intensity just hits you (in a positive manner). I do find DOODLE to be on the repetitive side, which is a bit of a letdown given how expressive the song is already. (7.5/10)

6. Love Untold (Hyunjin Solo) Love Untold is a mix of rock (gearing towards rock balladry territory) and hip-hop. Overall, it was a nice showcase of what Hyunjin has to offer when it comes to both rapping and vocals. However, I do feel like the chorus could have been better had be executed by a stronger vocalist. That being said, Hyunjin does show off his emotive and passionate side, especially when it comes to the rapping. It also helps that the melody of Love Untold is a lot clearer and cleaner. (8/10)

6. Run (Han Solo) – Han has demonstrated that he is an all-rounder over the last few years, and this made me curious to what direction his solo track would take. For Run, he chooses to showcase his rapping skills. I really liked his flow and the minimalistic vibes of the instrumental. It feels trendy and super unique. The deep autotuned vocals during the bridge of Run pretty much can be described the same way. Overall, I was impressed with Run and really enjoyed it. (9/10)

7. Deep End (Felix Solo) – Out of all of the members’ solo track on this compilation album, Felix’s Deep End was quite unexpected. It takes the form of a ballad. I really liked all the different vocal tones and variations he gives us throughout Deep End. He definitely utilizes his infamous deep and husky tone. But he also shows off so much more – like falsettos, a raspy tone and a set of smoother mid-range vocals. The instrumental is kept to a minimal with piano and the light presence of some other instrumentals, enabling the focus to be placed on Felix and his vocals. Quite a compelling listen. (9/10)

8. Stars and Raindrops (내려요) (Seungmin Solo) – I remember think how Stars and Raindrops felt like it could have been a DAY6 song. And knowing that he is a fan of the band, I do like how he drew upon his influence to deliver a strong track. I like how pleasant everything is, from the synth-featured band instrumentation, to his vocals, to the melodies of the song. The beat in Stars and Raindrops was also a nice change in momentum, given the preceding tracks. (9/10)

9. Hug Me (안아줄게요) (I.N Solo) – At first, I thought Hug Me was going to be an acoustic ballad with the way it started for some reason. But within seconds, as soon as I.N starts singing, the song instantly transforms into a pleasantly brighter and more cheerful number. The guitar work keeps the song grounded, while I.N’s vocals were sweet and loveable. (8/10)

10. #LoveSTAY – The final song covered on the A-side of the album (and this part of the album review) is #LoveSTAY, which is undoubtedly a love song for their fans. Musically, it is a ballad. Beautifully instrumented with orchestral touches and the vocals are so dreamy and touching. I really liked the way they ended the song, reiterating the loving and appreciation message they have for STAYs. Also, the group released a video for the song at the end of 2021, so check it out below if you missed it. As a recap, it features behind the scene shots of the members recording the song and snippets throughout their promotions/award shows. A nice nostalgic walk down memory lane for fans and the members alike. (9/10)

Overall A-Side Rating – 8.3/10

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Stray Kids’ Teaser Image from the MAXIDENT/CASE 143 era

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