[Review] Red Velvet returns to r&b with predictable “Psycho”

Red Velvet’s ReVe Festival series has seem them blitzing through a variety of styles with all the whiplash of a good carnival ride. Though I wasn’t too hot on it in the moment, the polarizing Zimzalabim remains my favorite title track from the project. It encompassed their quirky “red” side, which has always been my preferred Red Velvet concept. With new single Psycho, the girls have returned to the mellow r&b sounds that made 2018’s Bad Boy such a durable hit.

SM Entertainment has mined this restrained style for a number of comebacks over the past few months. Though different in energy and sound, Psycho almost feels like a continuation of EXO’s Obsession from last month. The track unveils over a plodding, trap-assisted beat that reminds of the pop-r&b of the mid-00’s. Unfortunately, I was never a fan of this vibe, and the production here does little for me. It’s missing the kind of groove that makes songs of this genre so enjoyable. It needs more syncopation, or some additional musical flourish that would breathe renewed life into the track as it goes on. Apart from a rumbling burst of synth in the chorus, the instrumental feels somewhat inert.

Absent of interesting rhythmic shifts, the girls’ vocals do much of Psycho’s heavy lifting. Their harmonies are airtight as always, and give the track needed oomph. The pre-chorus falsetto is a great treat, even if I’m not as sold on the melody it’s supporting. But when it comes down to it, I’m just not bowled over by Psycho’s repetitive hook. Like too much of the track, it feels overly predictable. I kept waiting for some kind of modulation. Psycho delivers a welcome twist during its finale, offering a secondary hook that aims for anthemic in a Little Mix sort of way. Like the rest of the song, it’s mildly effective. But, Red Velvet have mastered this sound with stronger material in the past.


IATFB says: As somebody who ended up thoroughly enjoying “Bad Boy”, I don’t see the same growth happening with “Psycho” as both the instrumental and the melodic offerings of the latter are inferior with the chorus in particular standing out in this regard. Still a perfectly fine song that should be enough for fans, but ultimately forgettable for me.

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