Dibidibi-discovery: Red Velvet-Red Flavor Album Review
I’m a bit late to this album, but as someone who loves “The Red” almost religiously, I thought it would be fitting to review something by Red Velvet as my first actual article.
I have a bit of a love and hate relationship with Red Velvet’s overall discography. Since Red Velvet, until recently, switched between bright pop songs and smooth R&B songs, they achieved a unique versatility that other Kpop groups don’t usually show. Unfortunately, the overall vibe of the Velvet songs comes up a bit bland or shallow. Unlike the Red side, which borders on grating on the first listen but becomes catchier on later listens, the R&B songs dull out once all their tricks are revealed. With their past two releases, however, they changed this cycle up by having three pop songs released back to back. I loved “Russian Roulette”, and I ended up enjoying “Rookie” after a while, but I didn’t think the albums themselves matched up to The Red. So what do I think of their latest mini-album? Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor” reaches the heights of “The Red” and proves the that Red Velvet is here to stay.
1: Red Flavor
As a single on the Red side, “Red Flavor” feels the most straightforward that Red Velvet has ever been. This simplicity doesn’t detract from the quality of the overall song, but actually enhances it by adding a stronger sense of direction. Red Flavor keeps its backings simple, which brings more focus on its stunning vocals. The drums and beat allow the bounce and flow of the song to go uninterrupted, keeping the momentum of the song intact. Red Velvet doesn’t let a beat go to waste, as their fast-pace lines make this the perfect song for the summer. Like a cold drink on a hot summer day, this song is refreshing on every listen.
2:You Better Know
Serving as the b-song of the mini-album, “You Better Know” combines a warm and friendly EDM-beat with cooing vocals. The EDM in this song is pretty light and not really present in the song, mainly rearing its head in the post choruses. The song is pretty, but there is a sense of genericness overall. This is a problem with most kpop groups in itself, but this song could easily been given to another group with little to no struggle. The quality of the song itself is still great, however it isn’t the most creative or best song of the mini-album.
Unlike what I said about “You Better Know”, “Zoo” could only be pulled off by a group as unique as Red Velvet. On its first listen, “Zoo” is easily the most memorable, its drop hitting like roundhouse kick to the face. I saw a comment on Reddit that said that this song is less “tropical house” than it is “jungle house” and I think that shows the variance of sounds found in Red Velvet’s discography. “Zoo” takes something that has been trending for the past month, tropical house, and adds on its own flavor.
Like its name suggests, “Mojito” is the most summertime of the songs. Coming after “Zoo” is a hard feat, but “Mojito” slows down the beat and slicks down the backing to allow for an easy and peaceful listen. “Mojito” reminds me of American Pop during the early 2010’s during the summer, light and cheery, especially around the post chorus. In my opinion, “Mojito” is the weakest of the mini-album, being a bit too generic and the verses not being very catchy. However, its place in the album is essential, cooling down the excitement of “Zoo” and allowing the smoother “Hear the Sea” to come through.
5: Hear the Sea
The closest this mini-album has to a ballad, “Hear the Sea” finishes the album by continuing the summer sound with a more relaxed take to it. Unlike “Mojito” and “Red Flavor” which both use its upbeat pace and vocals to show the bright and fun side of summer, “Hear the Sea” is more reminiscent of staring at a sunset at a beach, beautiful and dreamy. This type of song is less of my taste than the rest of the album, but the song keeps enough interest throughout the itself to keep me still wanting to listen more. As a closer, “Hear the Sea” concludes the summer motif and brings it to a more somber and subtle ending.
Overall, for a mini-album, “Red Flavor” covers a lot of ground. I think “Red Flavor” and “Zoo” are fantastic and must listens, and “Hear the Sea” and “You Better Know” are also pretty good as well. “Mojito” would be the only song that I would consider passing, but even then it’s at worst pretty non-offensive. I am continuously impressed about how this album uses its motif of summer and carries it throughout the entire mini album. In conclusion, “Red Flavor” brought the energy and spice this summer needed, and shows the heights that Red Velvet can go to in the future.