Most Japanese releases from K-pop acts don’t really attempt to engage with the Japanese market beyond a surface level, making it exciting when we get an international duet or track written by J-pop talent. Stray Kids’ Social Path pairs the group with theme-song-queen and overall epic rocker LiSA.
Social Path feels like a nod back toward Stray Kids’ debut era, placing rock influences front and center and anchoring its appeal with more sung melody than the group has embraced over the past few years. It’s a downright straightforward track, and that’s kind of refreshing. LiSA doesn’t appear until the second half of each chorus, making her feel a bit tacked on when they could’ve featured her as a more active collaborator. But when you’ve already got eight guys in your group, I guess there’s not much room for extra voices.
Overall, Social Path will get your blood pumping. Its mix of guitars and skittering percussion craft strong energy that remains consistent throughout. The melodies in the chorus feel a bit rote, especially when compared to Japan’s many examples of fantastic, charge-you-up rock anthems. But it’s fun to hear Stray Kids return to this sonic guise.