Song Review: Time Out by Stray Kids

Stray Kids, music-wise, are among my favorite boy groups in the 4th generation of K-pop. I absolutely ADORE Side Effects and Miroh, which are both among my favorite K-pop songs of all time. Their last official comeback, Maniac, was something I quite enjoyed, but I haven’t come back to after a month or two, so it was a great surprise to see them drop a new single Time Out with no warning at all!

While it is far from the group’s best, it showcases a different side to them in opposition to their usual shouty, rap-based, ‘noisy’ signature sound that the group is best known for.

Time Out is most successful in its energy. Its fast tempo and bright melodies complement nicely to create a fun atmosphere that allows the listener to let loose and have a ‘time out’, conveying the song’s message quite nicely. Although its guitar-based production sounds slightly generic, the choice to stick to what has been tried and true works in this sense, because songs of this style have continued to use similar components. It isn’t innovative, but it certainly does its job. In any case, I bop along with it!

The melodies aren’t groundbreaking but are fairly solid. The chorus acts as the main hook and it is quite effective, making use of the call and answer technique (Why is this technique common in K-pop these days? hahaha). Its verses are quite solid and move the song forward with its energy.

My biggest gripe with the song is the vocal delivery. Yes, they certainly have the attitude and the energy to go with the song. Unfortunately, a song like Time Out displays Stray Kids’ technical weaknesses more than their other songs like Thunderous for example. This is especially apparent in two parts, the pre-chorus, and the chorus. In the pre-chorus, there is a weird contrast between Changbin’s voice and Hyunjin’s voice that made me feel that another member would have been able to execute it better. Hyunjin’s voice is weaker and has a less ‘full’ sound, and even his best attempt to sound powerful to lead into the high-energy chorus felt a bit flat to me. He sounded great on his rap and would be able to handle lower singing lines just fine, so I’m not sure why he didn’t get one. Meanwhile, in the chorus, 2 members, in particular, sounded very much ‘stuck’ in an overly nasal placement. The other 3 members who do sing the chorus can better hide it, with special mention to Lee Know and Seungmin in particular who sounded fairly grounded and maintained a slightly better placement as they attempted those higher notes. No surprise for Seungmin, being Stray Kids’ main vocalist, but Lee Know surprised me in this one. Even if I don’t stan Stray Kids, I do bias Lee Know, but I didn’t know he could sound like that when singing. Overall, as much as it pains for me to say this, I think another more vocally proficient group could have sung Time Out to its full potential.

Meanwhile, Stray Kids never disappoints rap-wise. No more comments need to be made.

Overall, I quite like Time Out. However, it won’t be a song I will seek out often, but it is hard to criticize a song that sticks to its roots and aims to allow the listener to feel relaxed and energized. Stray Kids’ enthusiasm, as always, shines through in this song. I will certainly await their future comeback!

Hooks – 8
Production – 8
Vocal Delivery – 7
Rap Delivery – 10
Overall – 8.25

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