By Kya Brogdon | 3 April, 2023
On March 30, 2023, long anticipated group xikers (pronounced like “sai-kers”, previously known by their pre-debut named “KQ Fellaz 2”) finally made their debut! After many months of pre-debut content, including some song releases and even performing at their senior’s (ATEEZ) American shows - we finally have a full album of just xikers. After seeing them perform at my ATEEZ show in Phoenix, I have been looking forward to their debut, and it is everything I could have wished for. With multiple producing and composing credits attributed to none other than Kim Hongjoong of ATEEZ, I knew this album was going to be a hit way before they released their highlight video.
House of Tricky opens with the haunting spoken-word track “The TRICKY’s Secret,” which brings listeners into the lore that xikers’ is going to explore. Littered throughout this album is mentions of this “Tricky,” in the bridge of the second song “Doorbell Ringing,” we are greeted with “Welcome to the tricky house” amongst other lyrics talking about Tricky’s house. It’s clear that KQ (their company) has put a lot of thought into xikers’ lore, and that there will be lots to explore as their careers continue.
The stand out of the album is the title track “Tricky House,” partially because they released this song pre-debut (along with “Geek”) but also because it is a perfect showcase of their talents. With a heavy dance beat, we get to see a powerful performance of choreography as well as an incredible display of their rapping and vocal skills. This is one of the songs they performed when they opened for ATEEZ in the US, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. Hearing the official audio on this album made that feeling even worse - this song has been stuck in my head since I watched the MV when it dropped. Right off the bat, listeners are hypnotized by member Ham Jinsik’s deep vocals saying “지금부터 보여줄게 / 놀라운 TRICKY HOUSE” (translation: I’ll show you from now on / The surprising TRICKY HOUSE.”) The chorus of the song is relatively simplistic lyrically, but the beat fills the space in such an amazing way. A combination of Balkan-style traditional instruments and a strong drum beat, it’s impossible not to groove and dance along to the song (although, maybe not to the actual choreo - unless you want to throw out your back). While this style of in-your-face instrumental and vocals isn’t for everyone, it absolutely is for me. I could easily see this audio becoming a transition or catwalk trend on K-pop TikTok - the strong, confident vibe they give off in not only this song, but the entire album, makes you feel like nothing in the world could ever bring you down.
For anyone still unsure about how to pronounce this group's name (don’t worry, I was in the same boat), look no further than the B-side “Xikey.” This song starts off with leader Kim Minjae shouting “Xikers!” in a bold, unwavering voice that gave me goosebumps, and a handful of the members continue to name-drop throughout the track. Another dance heavy song - the confidence portrayed by these rookies is absolutely jaw-dropping. Watching them on stage, you would think they’ve been performing in front of sold-out arena shows for years. Around the part of the song where you’d expect the bridge to pop up, xikers takes listeners by surprise with a complete beat switch into something more upbeat and pop compared to the dark and grunge sound they were originally portraying. I’m no stranger to change-ups like this in songs (it’s expected now when I listen to NMIXX songs for the first time), but upon first listen I was not expecting it at all. After 25 seconds of this new melody, we are thrown back into the chorus part of the song with a more intense beat as the members finish out the track. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the change, but going into the second listen of the song now expecting it and knowing it was coming - I absolutely love it. I think it really shows how the xikers members can keep control of their energy and their songs despite the change, and it also shows that in the future they could easily make a strong comeback with a more traditional pop sounding song rather than the dance-centric tracks they’ve had on this album.
ATEEZ is my favorite group, so of course I had to tune in to support their juniors, but to say I’m impressed with this debut is an understatement. With 4th gen K-pop being often filled with groups doing noise music (whether for a one off concept or for a majority of their career), it would be easy to be lost in the masses - but I don’t think xikers will be lost to anyone any time soon. The talent of the 10 members is palpable, and you can see just how professional and sure of themselves they are on stage right out of the gate. Even just watching the differences between them in their pre-debut content to now, you can see how much they’ve improved already. I can’t wait to see how much more they grow as they continue to perform and solidify their place in the K-pop sphere.
Congrats on such a strong debut, boys! I’m excited to see what the future holds for you.