After the brilliant experimental vibes of The Velvet, it’s hard not to be somewhat disappointed with Red Velvet’s third mini album. That isn’t to say that the record is bad.
If anything, Russian Roulette plays like a trip to the candy store; incredibly saccharine tunes, colourful melodies, cutesy lyrics and all. It’s a been-there-done-that template that – for better or worse – has fuelled K-pop girl groups.
But SM’s latest girl group has always displayed a far more unique disposition. It’s one that straddles between the indie sensibilities of senior f(x) and mainstream flavours of super senior Girls’ Generation.
Granted, Russian Roulette is meant to portray the “red” side of the South Korean five-member outfit’s dual musical concept. Like the colour, this seven-track collection contains vivid songs that are unabashedly poppy.
At the same time, one can’t help but feel that the tracks here lack the edge and quirks of predecessors such as Ice Cream Cake and Dumb Dumb.
The title track – with its infectious hooks and bubbly rhythms – is a fun and glossy dance-pop number. But apart from its menacing music video, there’s nothing really innovative about the lead-off song.
That lukewarm sound extends to numbers such as the cloying Sunny Afternoon and cringingly cute Fool.
That said, Russian Roulette has aegyo (cutesy demeanour) working on its side. The retro-infused Lucky Girl especially, will have you bopping your head to its infectious melodies.
With its funky beats and eerie circus music, Lucky Girl is one of the better numbers in Russian Roulette.
Elsewhere, the girls just kick up a hugely commercial sound that sounds relatively tame. They will do well on the charts and music streaming sites, no doubt.
The thing, though, is this: Red Velvet has done stuff that are leaps and bounds ahead of its contemporaries. And the relentlessly sugared sound of Russian Roulette feels like several steps back for the young girl group.