‘The Red Summer’: Red Velvet Add Flavorful Color to the Sunny Season (Review)

The girls of Red Velvet return with their first summer mini-album, ‘The Red Summer,’ a bright, bold and fruit-filled musical escape.

Red Velvet are back…not that they’ve been gone very long, that is.

In fact, it was only five months ago that the S.M. Entertainment girls, who first debuted in 2014, were promoting their fourth consecutive No. 1 mini-album, Rookie. (Admittedly, “Rookie” is one of their weakest lead singles to date — although album track “Body Talk” remains incredible.)

Thankfully, the girls have done it much better just in time for summer.

“Red Flavor” is the lead track off of Red Velvet’s first-ever summer EP, fittingly titled The Red Summer (released on July 9), written and produced by Swedish songwriting-production team Caesar & Loui, the same troupe behind Girls’ Generation-TTS‘s “Stay,” among other notable bops.

The bold and bright red uptempo is a hand-clapping, foot-stomping onslaught of flirty chants, horns, stuttering beats and a strawberry-tasting, red hot kinda summer love. Irene and Yeri’s rap, especially, is a highlight — and Wendy steals the show with those pipes at the end.

It’s not quite “Russian Roulette” amazing — but it’s good.

As with Rookie, the group’s got even tastier offerings hidden deeper into their mini-album: Best of all is “You Better Know,” a near-perfect pop explosion of surging energy that provides a Teenage Dream-like burst of “Firework” synth-pop self-encouragement.

You better know / There’s a world that’s been waiting for you as you are,” they croon to their devoted ReVeluvs. (Look, it’s the official fan name they picked. I was personally hoping to be called a Cupcake.)

It’s heavenly. That the girls are also performing “You Better Know” on music shows is an indication that their team knows just how good it is, too.

The LDN Noise-produced “Zoo,” true to its title, wildly blends ’90s House and current club sounds — and, most incredibly of all, animal noises to boot. Lions, tigers and Red Velvet — oh my.

Love is looking like a…zoo!” The girls completely let loose in their jungle fantasy, unleashing a Tarzan cry (“Oh-OH-oh-OH!” — is that you, Wendy?) and frolicking in the foliage with their make-believe musical animal friends.

If the lead track off Red Summer is meant to kick off the day with a cry of “cheers!”, “Mojito” is the sound of the alcohol settling in during the sunset: the track keeps the intoxication of “Red Flavor” coming with even more fruity, color-coated electronic sweetness, basking in the “lemon-colored sand” on the beach.

There’s plenty of mixing the senses with colors in the lyrics on this album, for that matter. Those with synesthesia will be overloaded with sensation.

And, to keep the group grounded with a little bit of their Velvet-y concept, the slinky, string-filled “Hear The Sea” closes out the 5-track collection on a slower note, capping off their joyful getaway with a bit of warm seaside nostalgia.

I didn’t know the summer night dream / Would be this long and deep / Today’s weather keeps calling for you / It makes me miss you,” Wendy longingly croons.

Stuck in the office all day? No opportunity to escape? Fear not: Wendy, Irene, Seulgi, Yeri and Joy provided something flavorful enough in The Red Summer to make you believe, if only for a fleeting moment, you’re somewhere on the coast sipping on delicious mojitos and snacking on something citrusy alongside a hot babe.

The Red Summer was released on July 9. (iTunes)

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