All we were hoping is that they would give us an Automatic…and they did!
Note: This post has been updated to include thoughts on the new repackaged album.
When they dropped Red Summer, we noted that we got a hint of the Red Velvet that we loved best (the Be Natural/Ice Cream Cake aspect of the group). It appears we were right because the ladies have returned to form and to snatch everybody bald.
First off, the production on this set is exactly what we have been wanting for them for a while. There is nothing that overwhelms the vocals, but there is nothing that sounds generic and makes you tune out. Every track sounds like its own entity, but there are underlying elements in the instrumentation that join the tracks so that you don’t feel like your brain is doing backflips from the whiplash. We detect the pen and production prowess of Charli Taft (who did write Peek-A-Boo for them) on several of the tracks as she has a knack for the throwback jam. The songs have an homage feel without sounding dated in the least and are very distinct from the cutesy pigeonhole that a lot of female groups find themselves in.
As for the vocals, we really weren’t expecting the complexity we got in terms of the layering and the implementation. There are moments when they go simplistic with things and all the members sing the same notes in unison only for them to fan out at the last second and add a beautiful flourish to the end of a line. The solos are strong and your can really get a feel for their individualism now with each member having that little bit of something that sounds different despite the fact that they all have rather full voices. We get a cute delivery, a sensuous tone, a soulful adlib, a poppy flourish, and a rapper working together to makes some amazing music. Each plays their part well and knows how to adjust for the theme of each track and give you some good emotional resonance while their at it.
The lyrics (through our limited understanding) seem to stand up and hang together well. There are few metaphors that we didn’t get but seem to be rooted in a Korean perspective, so we had no problems with them. We want a full translation of Perfect 10 though, because we are getting some interesting signals about the nature of that track.
We have been waiting on this album since Russian Roulette; something that allows them to set themselves apart from the other girl groups out there and really claim their crowns. We can’t get enough and are eagerly awaiting the live stages.
It was really hard to pick but our favorite tracks are Look, Perfect 10, and Kingdom Come. The most skippable track is Attaboy just because, despite some solid moments in the bridges, the choruses meandered.
Update: The announcement of this repackage hit us out of nowhere. While this is probably our favorite of the two full-length projects, we thought that The Red (which did not get a repackage) was probably more popular overall due to the consistent up-tempo pacing. This release means that the ladies have found their niche for sustained success and should continue evolving along this path in the future.
It also means that we get some nice, new bops.
When we saw the teasers for the new video, we were expecting something very different than what we got with this repackage. Bad Boy came out with that sexy mid-tempo vibe that almost ran counter to some of the imagery that was featured (and, notably, not actually in the video). The track is one of those catchy ones that just doesn’t seem like it hits…until it does and you find yourself singing along with the excellent lead vocals and backing harmonies (especially those Ooh-ooh way-o’s). All Right is much more poppy overall, but has that kind of throwback sound that has a lot of R&B elements in it, especially in the harmonies where the ladies show out and give what could have been a very juvenile-sounding sound a lot more maturity even while it’s still cute in its execution. Time To Love rounds out the new tracks and, for it to be one of only three down-tempo tracks on the album, it fits in perfectly in its higher position as a good breaking point between Kingdom Come and My Second Date. The sound is that of early Red Velvet that fans from the days of Automatic have missed like crazy with its mellow goodness and constant mixture of subtle and brash harmonies that keep the ear guessing.
We are adding Bad Boy and Time To Love to our favorite tracks list.