The year 2020 has been chaotic but, luckily, for Stray Kids‘ fans, we have so much music to provide respite from current events. In June, Stray Kids dropped the Go Live album that included amazing tracks like “God’s Menu” and “Phobia.” The K-pop act decided to bless their fans with another album, In Life. This repackage of Go Live contains a whomping eight extra songs. If you are a fan of Stray Kids and their earlier albums, then In Life will likely be your cup of tea, as it delivers more of their signature bass sounds and lively melodies. The newer songs on the album also continue on themes of self-reflection and burnout. They balance out their styles of music with a variety of genres to keep the listener hooked.
“Back Door” and “Ex” are two of the best new tracks. Obviously, there was a reason why “Back Door” was chosen as a lead track. There isn’t anything not to like about that song: the vocals, rap, and infectious beat all bring together a hard-hitting track. The lyrics are not too deep and are about a celebrity wanting to go to a VIP room to let loose after a long day.
“Ex,” on the other hand, is a sorrowful mid-tempo ballad about heartbreak. The lyrics point to regret about a relationship that has ended and the aftermath. The song gives everyone a chance to perform, but the vocalists stand out with their honest declarations about wanting to change past events. One of the most interesting lines suggests the voice of the song wishes their former partner would just let go all of their anger to move past everything:
Curse me out as much as much as you like.
Do it for me until your hatred turns to anger.
As long as you can let it out,
And we can go back to how we were.
“We Go” and “The Tortoise and the Hare” are similar mid-tempo rap tracks but with different messages. “The Tortoise and the Hare” is an interesting take on the classic tale. We all know the story: the arrogant hare believed there was no way a slow-poke like the tortoise could beat it. The hare decides to take a nap and the tortoise ends up winning the race. The song takes the story and uses it as a metaphor for people going through life too quickly. The voice of the songs begs to be allowed to slow down and enjoy life. The song consists of a hip-hop beat, drawed-out rapping, and overwhelming use of autotune.
“We Go” also follows through with its annoying use of autotune. However, Changbin and Han both deliver impressive fast-paced raps. While “The Hare and Tortoise” is about slowing down, “We Go” is a brag about being able to travel to get away and their international appeal as artists.
“Any” has an addictive fast-spoken chorus that really catches the ear. The song is about not feeling satisfied with anything. If there was a theme to the album, it definitely is the concept of burnout: most of the songs are about escaping, feeling overworked, and wanting to relax. “Any” continues that theme further with the feeling of indifference even to all their attempts to try to combat that listless feeling:
There’s so many different things but nothing feels right.
There’s so many different things but I drop it all.
I end up dropping it all anyway.
Do I have to go off to some other planet or something?
“Be Me” continues on the topic as the lyrics are about leaving someone to be “free.” The song gives off major Got7 vibes but still manages to stay within Stray Kids’ realm. The two are on the same label, so it would not be surprising if their musical styles sometimes get tossed to each other. The song has a good pre-chorus that hooks you in and never lets go. The song itself starts off slow and builds up to a vocally heavy and dramatic chorus that delivers the final blow.
“My Universe” and “Wow” are both some of the more generic songs on the album. “My Universe” is a love ballad and probably the least interesting song, both lyrically and musically. It has a generic melody with cliched lyrics about space and time. “Wow” also has shallow lyrics but, admittingly, has a catchy chorus that will make you forget about its cons. The song is about being amazed by someone’s physical appearance. The lyrics are fun and flirty but there is not really anything more to it than that.
Go Live was already a well-rounded album, so In Life is just that times two. The album continues with themes about burnout, the pressures of fame, and wanting to getaway. It has a great balance of genres to give everyone a little bit of everything. While some of the songs could have been better in quality, overall this is a great album to add to Stray Kids’ discography.
(Youtube. Lyrics via Genuis  . Images via JYP Entertainment.)