Many netizens initially (and may still) wondered if S.M. Entertainment has a clear musical direction for rookie group, Red Velvet, but judging by the unexpected addition of member Yeri, the agency appears to have plenty up their sleeves for the now five-member unit. And the girls’ first mini-album Ice Cream Cake reflects their versatility – they sing, rap and dance through six tracks which borders on sugary pop and sultry R&B – much like their first two (vastly different) digital singles ‘Happiness’ and ‘Be Natural’. This formula seems to work just fine as Red Velvet rose to the number two spot on Billboard’s World Albums chart, an impressive feat for a K-pop act which only debuted eight months ago.
In many ways, Ice Cream Cake is saccharine effort. The playful title track ‘Ice Cream Cake’ is a mish-mash of whimsical electropop, rap and catchy lyrics (“It’s so tasty, come and chase me”) which speaks of love like it is a type of sweet dessert. ‘Stupid Cupid’ is another bouncy guitar and synth heavy tune about a girl’s desire to obtain her crush’s affection which would not have sounded out of place on a Girls’ Generation album. Still it is clear from the album that Red Velvet is not packaged to sound excessively girly or cute like some of their counterparts.
There are moments when they slip into their mature, soulful side like on ‘Automatic’ – a glossy, jazzy number that highlights the members’ smooth, honeyed vocals – or on ‘Somethin Kind of Crazy’ – a soft yet funky ride through their recollection of an unbelievable romance. The latter falls somewhere in between ‘Stupid Cupid’ and ‘Automatic’ and is arguably one of the more memorable tracks on the album. Ice Cream Cake moves into slow-jamming mode as the members fret over their feelings of insecurity in ‘Take It Slow’ before wrapping the 21-minute album with conflicting emotions of joy and self-doubt on ballad ‘Candy’.
Recommended tracks: ‘Ice Cream Cake’, ‘Automatic’ and ‘Somethin Kind of Crazy'