[Review] Stray Kids blast forward with ambition with “Miroh”

At the end of last year, I picked Stray Kids as my top rookie of 2018. However, that was largely based on the incredible strength of their March debut. By the end of the year, I’d fallen a little out of love with their music. Part of me was afraid they’d begin to get lost in the trendy moodiness that drags down so many current boy groups. But with the galvanizing, triumphant “Miroh“, they’ve shattered expectations and reignited that spark of excitement I felt after listening to “District 9“.

Over the past few months, I’ve often complained about the lack of impact in K-pop’s title tracks. “Downbeat” and “chill” seem to the trends of the moment, but I seek out songs that slap me in the face with their energy and ambition. “Miroh” fits that description, rarely letting up as it rockets to its climax. Much of the song is built on familiar trends (a big beat drop, a deep house influenced groove), but it twists them just enough to feel fresh and daring. I absolutely love the chant-like hook that runs through most of the track. It feels African-inspired in a real classic way, and imbues the rap-heavy build with the kind of catchiness that’s often missing from these segments.

“Miroh” kicks off with an evocative spoken-work introduction, where member Felix makes a case for becoming the low-toned successor to Big Bang’s TOP. From here, we get a brief bit of pop melody before launching into that aforementioned build and a gargantuan beat drop that truly ignites the intense energy of “Miroh”. On first listen, I was worried that this instrumental loop would take the place of an actual chorus, but the guys quickly jump in to deliver an anthemic hook on top of it. And that sense of fulfillment is “Miroh” in a nutshell. Rather than hold back, it blasts forward. I only hope the industry as a whole follows suit.

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