[Album Review] Monster (1st Mini Album) – Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi

It is time for another album review. Today’s album in focus belongs to Red Velvet’s first unit, Irene & Seulgi. This duo debuted on earlier this month with Monster as the main promotional track. Two weeks later, the duo followed up with Naughty, which wowed fans (including myself) with its awesome sound and jaw-dropping dance. Both Irene and Seulgi also had solo videos, with Seulgi’s solo video also doubling up as a music video for her Uncover solo that is also on this mini-album. All the links to the songs I mentioned are below. And while listening to each song, why not read my deep dive into the album and the side-tracks.

Monster Album Cover

1. Monster (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Monster. (7/10)

2. Naughty (놀이) (Follow Up Track) Click here to read the full review for Naughty. (9/10)

3. Diamond – I really like the sensual vibes that we get from Diamond. It is that sleek style of R&B that reminds me of their rendition of Be Natural (previously released back in in 2014). In comparison to that song, Diamond has a bit of more energy to it, thanks to the beat in Diamond’s instrumental. While the instrumental is already quite weak, the song gets stripped at the bridge. Its placement really helped prevent the song from being too consistent, which is a common occurrence with R&B songs like this. The vocals from both members were quite nice throughout this song. They really do suit the R&B style as proven by this track. I also like the diva-vibes that come off the ‘Diamond in the rough’ repetition that opens and closes the song. (8/10)

4. Feel GoodFeel Good continues the R&B sound from the preceding track. This one has more of a kick to it when it comes to the chorus. While there is a consistent backbone that runs throughout most of the song, the chorus features a suitable but typical selection of synths. While the choice of style made sense and felt natural, it lacked uniqueness and memorability. And hence, it did come off as a bore to me. This is quite a pity, because I liked the direction in which the verses and pre-chorus was taking, especially the ramp up to the chorus. I just wanted a little more to the chorus. Not too much to throw the song off balance, however. The vocals were good. They sounded emotionless at times, but I felt that was appropriate when I went through the lyrics about feeling indifferent to their ex-lover and ruining their ex-lover’s life. (7/10)

5. Jelly – I expected Jelly to be a lot more upbeat regardless of their choice of genre. And that was delivered. In fact, I find the instrumental to be teasing us with its playful nature. It is subtle, but likeable. Once again, the vocals are quite good. I liked how they bolstered themselves up by singing together. It added a bit more energy to the song. I also enjoyed the use of brass in the song. It adds to that subtle playful nature that I mentioned. But it does so in a refined way that fits the R&B sound we get on this album. I would have enjoyed the song more if had stronger hooks and melodies. I felt the song lacked memorability due to the two lacking components. I did find the high pitched ‘What’ just before the chorus to have a bit of that memorable factor. But it wasn’t enough. (8/10)

6. Uncover (Seulgi Solo) Uncover was the special track on the album and performed only by Seulgi. A music video was released for Uncover during the same week when we got the Naughty music video (I think was last week). As expected, Uncover takes on R&B. It is an aesthetic song, based on its abstract and choppy instrumental. I really like the small details in the instrumental, which adds to that aesthetic appeal and some textural components to the song. Her vocals are really nice in this song and adds a smooth flair to the song that the instrumental lacked due to those small details I just mentioned. It isn’t the most memorable song the album, but it definitely is a strong one nonetheless based on music and vocals alone. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Monster Teaser Image

[Review] Naughty – Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi

You may know that I have been withholding a few reviews as the corresponding music videos were released after I already covered them in my album review segment on this blog. And as promised, those missed music videos reviews will be out soon. But I do still watch them! Today, I had a listen and watched Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi’s latest music video release for Naughty and just knew that this needs its standalone review. And that is why we are here. I have yet to review their Monster mini-album but I have previously reviewed the Monster title track, which you can read after this review.

With Irene & Seulgi’s mature and dark turn with this Monster unit debut, Naughty‘s presence on the album felt appropriate, but also a missed opportunity. When I first listen to the album, Naughty seemed to be the most logical choice for the title track over Monster. Monster had a dullness to it, which let down the chosen title track. Naughty, on the other hand, had a level of dynamism and hypnotic appeal that just clicked. And this helps overtake that dullness that I was disappointed with in the actual title track. This song takes on deep house and features many crunchy synths to give Naughty a wonderful sense of texture. I really liked the sassiness that started the song and stayed in the background during the verses. I liked the bass that comes along with the song, adding to the already mentioned dynamic atmosphere of the song. I liked how the chorus had a chant-like delivery, which was thoroughly interesting and helped with the said appeal. The vocals during the rest of the song was quite good. I still do think Naughty could have used something more, like a rap sequence to add some further edge to the song or add an additional layer of intensity. But what we got anyway is already enough to satisfy me. And given how positive my thoughts on the song were, Naughty is obviously a superior track on the album.

The ‘Episode 1’ in the title of the music video confuses me. Does that mean that the unit will be releasing music videos for all side tracks? Or is something else coming our way? No one knows. I guess we just have to wait and see. In the meanwhile, I thought the music video for Naughty was terrific. It is more of a performance video, given its focus on the choreography and it strays away from the use of closeups. I felt the start and end of the video where the two are walking towards and away from each other felt a little unnecessary, unless they are what connects the ‘episodes’ together. I would have been fine with the choreography centered shots as they had really good post-production and its simplicity with the grey-scale tones made it aesthetic. I really liked the solo shots where the member in focus is dancing opposite the member behind the camera. It definitely looks like we are doing the performance and adds a unique depth to the video.

The performance for Naughty definitely leaves a wowing impression. The mixture of voguing (Not too sure if this is the right category of the moves as the tempo doesn’t necessary match what I associate with voguing, but given their use of their arms) and tutting in this performance looks very cool and hypnotic. It will definitely be a stand out routine of the year given its visual appeal.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.2/10

[Review] Monster – Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi

It has been a while since we heard from Red Velvet, which I assume is due to Wendy’s recovery from the stage accident that grounded their Psycho promotions to a halt at the very of last year. But now Red Velvet has returned to the stage in the form of a duo subunit, Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi, which is up of (you guessed it!) Irene and Seulgi. The official release of their debut title track Monster occurred on Monday, but the music video was not released until Tuesday. And I accidentally napped unexpectedly, resulting in a further delay in the review. And before I nap again today, here is my review for Monster.

If you go into this song thinking we will be getting something Red Velvet usually puts out (as that is what you might think given the name Red Velvet is retained in the unit’s name), be prepared to be surprised. Monster has a very distinctive sound. It is like Monster took Red Velvet’s darkest and edgiest sound and amping it up to the next level. It starts with a high pitch and slightly distorted ‘Na Na Na‘, which undoubtedly sets the tone of the song. We then enter a very sinister and suspenseful verse, before launching it a more energised chorus made up of trap elements and dubstep. The song’s vibes and sound essentially repeat itself once that ‘Na Na Na‘ distorted vocals return at the end of the chorus. But while the song does have that unique distinctive sound for current times, I do find the repetition to dull the song’s appeal. It could have been intriguing and interesting, provided they change up the song’s textures a bit as it progressed to give it some variety and freshness. I do commendable Irene and Seulgi’s vocals, which were superb in this song. They added character to the song and helped Monster achieve those sinister and suspenseful vibes that I mentioned earlier. I particularly liked the entire second verse, as there was some interesting colours and vocal profiles there. The chorus had nice melodic hooks, but like the repetition flaw, it soon became dry and dull. There ‘I’m A Little Monster‘ was impactful and came off strong in a subtle manner. Overall, Monster was a fair effort. Just not as mind-blowing as I hoped it to be.

The dark and edgy sound that the song opted for was reflected in the visuals of the music video through the horror influence. While it was quite good to watch, this horror concept came off as rather tame. I wanted to see them go that extra mile as they could have explored a lot of imagery and stories, conceptually. We see the members dressed in white doll-like dresses that resemble the clothing that we see young girls wear in horror movies as they die or haunt the living. Seulgi creepily crawling in one scene towards herself and then walking confidently in the next, similar to how I remember some demonic ghosts would haunt the living in some movies. We see Irene playing with dolls in a creepy manner and in one of the choreography shots, we see a devil’s face edited over Irene’s face. It didn’t scare me, but it had me jumping up and down excitedly as that was the type of scare that I wanted to see. I did like the sets, as they gave off a haunting without going explicitly into cliche haunted house land.

I really liked the outfits they wore and the makeup they donned in the music video. It really suited the music video. And I can’t wait to see them on stage with those exact same outfits and makeup. For the choreography, it looks like a stunning routine. Best parts include their starting formation, (which looks like a creepy creature) and Seulgi twisting Irene to include the ghost face (simple yet effective in terms of coolness).

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10