STRAY KIDS – I am WHO Album First Listen + Review

Due to my love of the title track “My Pace”, I am overly excited to listen to this album. Keep in mind, this is a first listen but I include an overview in the last paragraph. My opinion of an album changes depending on how much I listen to it so the end totals are subject to change. I’m not saying it’ll happen with this album, it’s just a reminder for those of you are unfamiliar with the way I do reviews.

With that out of the way, time for my first listen!

ARTIST: STRAY KIDS

ALBUM: I am WHO

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Available on Spotify and iTunes!

I am WHO was released 7 August 2018 with title track “My Pace” – see my reaction post to this (here) – their first comeback since their official debut at the start of this year. While I have seen all MVs and listened to all albums they’ve released so far, most members are still unknown to me (with the exceptions of Felix, Chan, Changbin and Jisung) so you’ll have to excuse my lack of knowledge for who’s singing and when.

For album reviews I do look at translations before listening to the song but I only bring up those translations if I really enjoy a song or from a group I really enjoy lyrically (e.g iKON or BTS). I’m unsure at this point if I will be doing so for this album but I have read all the translations for each track.

Time to get started!

First track of the album is “WHO?” and it starts off with a slow and almost simplistic instrumental before turning into a more intense and dance-centred song. It’s under two minutes long and I can’t help but wish it was a full track because I enjoy the overall vibe and ambiance this song gives out.

Like I mentioned earlier, see my opinion and reaction to “My Pace” (here). With the placement of this song in the album it fits well in relation to the first track. Both tracks show similar genres, “My Pace” just shows an elevated and more finessed track.

Third track “Voices” starts off with a simplistic electric guitar with slow building percussion before Changbin comes in, elevating it – something Changbin is extremely good at. I enjoy this song because it does straddle the line between stripped back and intense but I enjoy that dichotomy a lot. Neither side is over powering but I do wish the song was a little more intense at certain parts. With the title of Voices, I think the echo and reverb in some parts is really well done.

Lyrically, “Voices” is a stand out as it shows a little more depth than the other tracks. Having deeper lyrics isn’t a prerequisite when it comes to making a good song, I personally tend to drift more to those songs than others.

Stop, the judgmental sound about me
I just get annoyed as if they’re the noise between floors
At some point, I started to hear these nagging sounds only
Now it’s noisy, I don’t wanna hear no more
Hopeless nonsense, I’m never fooled by your story uh
Even if you shamelessly say the things I’m not even curious about, I keep yawning every time
Why do you keep talking? Speakers, you tone up and raise your voice again
I don’t care anymore, don’t care no more, that’s enough, leave me alone

“Question” reverts to the lighter more fun sound of “My Pace” but it does have a nicer baseline in my opinion. I enjoy the way the boys tend to play with the tempo in this song, moving between the heavier verses and chorus and the lighter pre-chorus’. I also enjoy how the song almost strips back to only percussive bass sounds for the rap line. It’s just a fun song that often sounds very carnival-inspired at times.

“Insomnia” is a slower and thinner sounding song. When I say thinner I’m referring to the percussion sounds – it’s a lot lighter than their previous songs and I enjoy how different it is. In saying that, the bass does come into full effect during the chorus, as expected, but I enjoy the slower tempo of this song more than the others. I particularly enjoy the bridge of this song, both musically and vocally – it’s a nice moment for such a rap heavy group. C’mon vocals!

Sixth track “M.I.A” is another slower song while still upbeat – its a little closer to early 2000s hip hop which is great. It does feel at home coming straight after “Insomnia” as they do link in this aspect. What I find confusing is the autotune in the chorus. Though I do like autotune when it’s used well, I’m drawing a blank to why it was used so much in this song and especially with vocalists who don’t need it. I don’t know if that’s a common thought for every one else or it’s just a pet peeve of mine but I’m curious to why it was used at all. It doesn’t hinder the vibe of the song, I actually quite enjoy it because it is a little more calm than the previous track.

Last track “Awkward Silence” goes back to the funky sounds previously heard in “My Pace” and “Question” – I enjoy a continuing theme genre-wise. This song uses some brass as well which is nice. Though not my favourite song off the album, I understand it’s placement and why it was featured on the album. Having Felix in the background with his Australian accent makes my heart warm though. It’s nice to hear a familiar accent amongst a purely Korean track.

Overall, this album is okay. It’s not my favourite album they’ve released to date but it is nowhere near bad. I think I’m feeling a little confused because of my high expectations “My Pace” unfortunately gave me and I think the majority of this album didn’t really give me what I wanted. I do prefer I am NOT more but I will always be interested in what STRAY KIDS has to offer – their musicality at such a young age is sure to blossom into an untouchable discography in the future and I’m excited to see what they do.

My rating: 6.5/10

Did you enjoy I am WHO? Let me know what your favourite tracks are down below! Keep in mind – this is my own opinion. If you have any points you want to bring up or anything you disagree with, don’t hesitate in letting me know in the comments. I welcome any and all opinions on my page. What I don’t tolerate is negativity. I’m an adult, so behave accordingly.

 

Bye guys!

xx

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