Review: RBB by Red Velvet

RBB by Red VelvetThe night Red Velvet dropped RBB and begun their promotional stretch, I was getting a lot of text messages from Shalla. “Irene is a goddess!” she said. (I agree; this is her in 4K for proof.) I wasn’t keen on the title song; I thought it was too much vocal theatrics and was a really muddled pop track. But then I have to be reminded that, one, Red Velvet operate on two modes, and for this record they’re definitely on their Velvet phase; and two, judging from recent decisions to release English versions of their singles, they’re somewhat being groomed as an answer to the global not-really-dominance of Blackpink. Also, after two years of frustration at the girls seemingly running out of ideas – complete with “RBB” being a callback to their last single “Bad Boy” – I have just… accepted it, I guess? Red Velvet has completed their pivot towards 90s-flavored pop; the “Dumb Dumb” era is clearly a thing of the past. It also helps that, once again, the non-singles are better, synthesizing the concept, the new direction, and the girls’ tested vocal chops. But, again, this is K-pop; you also fight with the visuals, and even if “RBB” is objectively a middling song, you watch the music video – or any live performance, 4K or otherwise – and you get all this impact coming down on you. That’s one metric, and on that front, this is another typically strong comeback. If only that was my metric. [NB]3/5

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