When it rains, it pours – and Red Velvet fans are feasting on new music this month. Not only did the group make a long-awaited comeback last week, but their first full Japanese album also looms on the horizon. Before we get there, the ladies have revealed new J-pop single Wildside. SM artists have a distinguished history in Japan, and I’m eager for another act to take on SNSD’s excellent J-pop legacy. So far, Red Velvet b-sides like Aitai-tai and Swimming Pool have born more fruit than their respective singles.
Wildside should please fans of the group’s “velvet” sound. It’s more restrained and consistent than many of their title tracks, showcasing their always-fantastic vocals. And on a more Bias List-specific note, I’m surprised (and happy) to see Nam Donghyun (of Boyhood fame) listed in the album credits. He deserves the paycheck for Retro Love alone! But other than that, this song isn’t really for me. Red Velvet excel at R&B, particularly when they tackle a beguiling track like Bad Boy. Wildside conjures a decent groove and the ladies bring plenty of charisma, but the melodies are a bit rote.
This is most problematic during the chorus. Honestly, I don’t like this melody at all. Despite unfolding against a languid backdrop, there’s a franticness to the structure that feels too one-note. Opinions will vary, and I suspect many will prefer this to the more off-kilter Feel My Rhythm from last week. But, I wish the track would have further harnessed the mystifying restraint of its pre-chorus. Wildside just gets too noisy, which drowns out its charms.