Keeping in line with SM’s apparent plan of churning out consecutive summer hits with all their artists to dominate the second half of the year, Red Velvet has returned with The Red Summer (I will be really disappointed if they don’t release another album titled The Velvet Winter). With a bright, colourful, and fruity concept, the mini-album is packed with five summery-titled songs, but does it live up to its summer hype?
The title track, “Red Flavor”, is bold and goes full blast right from the get-go. It is peppy, fun, and exactly what you want in a summer hit — strong rhythm to move the track along, quirky beats and melodies, and catchy choruses to boot. The deep “Red Red Red Velvet” line that is repeated throughout the song is a nice, if strange, touch, that adds to the slightly eccentric flavours. Fortunately, the rap sections don’t detract from the song, in fact, they add to the momentum, and are a smooth transition to the slower bridge that bursts to the climax. This is definitely my favourite track off the album, and is a permanent addition to my summer playlist.
“You Better Know” draws away from the bubblegum pop genre of “Red Flavor” into more of an EDM-influenced style. Starting off slower and calmer, it gradually builds into the chorus. The beginning of the chorus section is sung solo, which perhaps drew away from the overall strength and impact, since the latter parts of the chorus where all the members sang together was definitely more powerful. Either way, it is one of those slice-of-life summer songs that are blasted as you speed down the highway with your friends in a convertible for a summer road trip. Or does that only happen in the movies?
Aptly named, “Zoo” incorporates sounds that you would actually hear in a zoo: birds chirping, elephants trumpeting, monkeys squeaking. Add that to the recurring whistle motif, the upturned “Zoo” in very last part of the chorus, and the imitation of some sort of bird call or howl, this track has a very tropical feel to it and is definitely something that has never been heard before. Next up is “Mojito”, which is driven by a strong pulsing beat. Although it is a little too slow for a summer pop song, it does have a groovy melody to make up for it.
“Hear the Sea” is the slow, jazzy track that we all have been waiting for! It is a little reminiscent to their “Be Natural” and “One of These Nights” days with that “velvet” style, so if those songs weren’t your cup of tea, then this might not be either. For me, however, Red Velvet just seems to fit every concept — especially their slow jazzy ones — so well, and this track, with its sultry mood and the strings and brass accompaniment — is perfect for those warm summer nights.
My only complaint with this album is that it is too short — otherwise, it is the perfect embodiment of summer. Filled with a diverse range of hits, there is a song for everyone here. What is most impressive is that while each song represents an aspect of summer, very few if any of the tracks sound like any one we’ve ever heard — they are all unique and fresh, which is refreshing in the music industry where tunes can sound the same and blend together over time. Red Velvet has managed to bring it for the summer season, and I for one am definitely down to jam with these rad flavours!
(Images via SM Entertainment)