I often feel that, if given complete creative freedom, most idols would release nothing but ballads and coffee-shop style acoustic tracks. For a fan of megawatt pop music, this suspicion is a little depressing, and only reinforces the over-played idea that only some musical styles hold real artistic merit. Perhaps this is why I’ve struggled to connect with most of the recent SM Station tracks. They do feel personal to the artists releasing them (which is a good thing), but this often comes at the expense of an interesting musical palette.
As Red Velvet’s youngest, Yeri hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunity to step into the solo spotlight until recently. She collaborated with one half of NCT Dream for the fun Hair In The Air back in December, but Dear Diary (스물에게) is her first self-composed track — working alongside So Ko-eun of production team Monotree. The fact that she took on such a big creative role here is something to be lauded, even if this style of track is rarely something I enjoy.
Dear Diary is relatively unadorned, which puts focus on Yeri’s voice. Free from the shadows of the more bombastic performers in her group, it’s a pleasure to focus on her sweet tone. The warm harmonies are an especially nice touch, and blend perfectly with the calming, throwback instrumental. This song could have been recorded any time within the last twenty-five years and carried roughly the same sound. This sense of familiarity goes a long way in covering Diary’s shortcomings. Its melody feels almost inconsequential, wafting in and out without leaving much in its wake. There’s nothing wrong with a song aiming for pleasant over impactful, but even a little melodic ambition would have gone a long way.