Red Velvet Delivers One Of The Year's Best Pop Albums With 'The Red (Tape)'
Pink Tape, Only Red!Cohesive Sound And StyleZero Filler
f(x) Is Still Better...? Maybe?
4.8Overall Score
Reader Rating 92 Votes

In the music video for Red Velvet‘s insanely infectious new single “Dumb Dumb,” the group, clad in matching Pippi Longstockings/Small Wonders ensembles, are shown being churned out in a factory like clones for sale. This kind of commentary on manufactured pop idols has been done before, and many might assume that from Red Velvet –SM Entertainment’s second ‘experimental’ girl group after f(x)– it’s being done in an ironic way to show just how left-field they are compared to their generic contemporaries.

On the contrary, I think SM is playing it completely straight-faced with this one. SM’s always been obvious about making their third generation idols artificial amalgamations of their popular predecessors; EXO is built from the DNA-ridden hair gel of SHINee and Super Junior, and Red Velvet was constructed using weave fibres from S.E.S. and f(x).

Unlike rivals YG Entertainment, SM has never been ashamed of turning people into products or felt the need to unnecessarily push their idols as artistes, and they’ve been more blatant than Luna’s plastic surgery when it comes to assembling Red Velvet. We saw f(x) suddenly become more dark and abrasive last year with their Red Light album, while all the tracks that typically would’ve gone to them –like “Happiness” and “Ice Cream Cake”– were given to their Mini-mes, RV.

This couldn’t be any clearer than on Red Velvet’s immaculate 1st album, The Red, which I’ve affectionately labelled The Red Tape for two reasons: its collection of quirky K-pop confections mirrors the exact style of Pink Tape, and on top of that, The Red also matches f(x)’s masterpiece in terms of song quality.

“Dumb Dumb” is by far one of the stickiest singles SM’s produced this year. I’ve seen people online comparing it to both Ariana Grande’s “Bang Bang” and T-ara’s “Sexy Love,” and while those comparisons are somewhat accurate (more so the former than the latter), “Dumb Dumb” is its own strange creation-a brassy, repetitious storm in a teacup punctuated by bells and ha-has.

The Red is riddled with other weird moments, with the weirdest being the Kenzie-produced “Huff N Puff,” a Lewis Carroll acid trip of a song about falling into a fairytale storybook (or possibly a k-hole).

Red Velvet try their hand at American pop-rap with “Time Slip,” which starts off with DJ Mustard’s used-and-abused crunk bass synths then switches gears into a dreamy ’80s chorus that could’ve come from Dev Hynes himself.

The girls even get their own Sweetune moment (yas god, YASS!) with the MonoTree-produced “Day 1.” It’s this album’s “Love” and future favourite Grimes song.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that The Red is necessarily better than Pink Tape (although it isn’t worse, either), but it’s definitely more streamlined. With just ten tight tracks, there’s no room for public-friendly filler like “Goodbye Summer” or the corny rocky closer “Ending Page.” The Red is non-stop bubblegum from start to finish, and whether Red Velvet’s singing to sugary synthpop or rapping over offbeat hip-pop, their young and playful demeanour never changes.

All hail The Red (Tape) until their less impressive follow-up, Pink Light, drops next year.

the red tape

  • KingBeaArthur

    I LOVE the album and this review, except I feel the concept is more “Small Wonder” vs Pippi Longstocking! It actually plays more into the mv concept of them being robots clones!

    While RV started off as f(x) pretenders, they’ve finally begun to craft their own sound, which could just be considered SHINee femme; I’d rather that than f(x) lite tbh. RV are a little more sexual & less ‘weird’, while still pushing the envelope sonically. “The Red” is a perfect showcase of their abilities (minus “Campfire”. Just listen to “Steppin'”, ya’ll).

    And I just put it together that Yeri’s addition to the group signaled Sulli’s official exit from f(x)! They couldn’t have two four member girl groups, now could they…

    • norimix1

      Shit.. I thought I was the only one who thought that Sulli leaving Fx was the catalyst for SM adding Yeri to the RV mix (Meaning SM knew Sulli was leaving Fx months before the Ice Cream Cake mini album last spring).

      • I thought everyone knew that! You could tell as soon as Yeri was randomly added that Sulli was probably leaving

        • KingBeaArthur

          We still had hope…

    • Omg, Small Wonder lmfao I am dying, I watch clips of this on Youtube sometimes coz it’s so bad.

      Since they have the Pippi hair I think it must be a combination of the two which is awesome and hilarious

      • KingBeaArthur

        I didn’t connect the dots when I saw the teasers, but once I watched the mv I died! Them even referencing it halfway made me love “Dumb Dumb” more, honestly.

  • T-rolly (Fiestar Yezus)

    I’m not really sure about this one but if you guys are happy with it, I am happy. Half of my twitter TL also loves this album so I guess this is really good just not my taste but that’s probably because I’m comparing it to Pink Tape (and Reboot) which is unfair.

    • nique

      Same here. I was super excited to hear the album because everyone seemed to love it, and it is just meh to me, although I think it’s great that most consider it amazing.

  • norimix1

    RV’s Dumb Dumb is probably the best title track from SM since SNSD’s IGAB…

    • KingBeaArthur

      “View”…?????

      • norimix1

        I was exited with view first few dozen times I listened to it but fell out of my repeat listening playlist after first few weeks… IGAB is still on heavy rotation on my playlist 2 yrs after first release along with Express 999..

    • 22

      igab is good? I think its one of their best title track since like genie lol. that shit is made of legit crack, never liked a SM song this much. I literally cant stop playing it.

  • Bruno

    “All hail The Red (Tape) until their less impressive follow-up, Pink Light, drops next year.”

    c’mon, we all know they’re dropping “The Velvet” next year, which will focus on their mature/sleazy/R&B side instead of the quirky pop side! But yeah, great first album from the girls.

  • lucinda veen

    I’ve been following k-pop for just over a year now, and this is one of the first albums I’ve fallen in love with. I don’t adore every single album track, but “Red Dress,” “Don’t U Wait No More,” and “Cool World” are so great.

  • I would just add that Cool World is the second coming of Airplane (a.k.a. the best song in Pink Tape). Flawless closer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xohGheK9xAg

    • Agreed! Would love to see them promote this or Day 1. Do you also like to pretend that the song is about the trash classic, “Cool World”, starring Brad Pitt and an animated Kim Basinger?

  • walter

    [INFO]

  • snailsong

    i was actually really disappointed with dumb dumb when i first heard it (but i thought the mv was amazing obvs) but then when i listened to it again today it was like an entirely new and amazing experience? Now i can’t get it out of my head and i love it to bits :D

    I guess it’s a lot like igab that way (although i loved igab at first listen) because it helps to have heard the song before so that you’re prepared for everything that’s going to happen and only then do you really start to appreciate it~

  • The state of Vici’s head encapsulates my feelings.

  • William Love

    one of my favorite cuts from this album is Lady’s Room – if for no other reason than the fact that it sounds like an upgraded F(x) b-side

  • Mattey

    Red Velvet has become my favorite group from SM for a few reasons:

    1) I primarily listen to girl groups, so sorry to SHINee (but Jonghyun is the man though)

    2) SM is giving them all the weird shit that I rarely get from f(x) (not saying f(x) rarely gives it to us, it’s just that they rarely comeback like wtf)

    3) They’re officially SM’s group where they’ll give us all the sexy stuff and R&B stuff

    4) Irene is the next fucking goddess here to snatch all the wigs. MAY THE BOOTY HUNTER RISE https://31.media.tumblr.com/3b1f2c84d156527f29c7e1151ac42350/tumblr_n9ypnmmHOa1ti9diyo1_r1_500.gif

  • leightonlee

    Dear arcadey… time to review 4 walls :D