Dead Man Runnin’
Bad Boy, Sad Girl
Anywhere But Home
It is quite exceptional to see artists who constantly show that they are born to be a star and whose rightful place is under a bright spotlight – Seulgi from Red Velvet is a perfect example of this, and she proves it loud and clear in her fist solo EP 28 Reasons.
Red Velvet (the Kpop quintet which Seulgi is a part of) stands out in the genre landscape not only thanks to the quality of their music, but also due to the uniqueness of their storylines and visual elements. It seems only right for Seulgi to follow suit in those footsteps, delivering an album that is as musically stellar as it is interesting concept-wise.
Sonically, the EP dabbles mainly into R&B and dance-influenced pop, with each of the six tracks maintaining a high level of cohesiveness without falling flat. But it is the incorporated narrative of good vs evil that ties it all together and makes the record as brilliant as it is.
28 Reasons – the eeriness in the grace
The title track 28 Reasons sets the tone immediately, infusing listeners with an eerie yet elegant sentiment that will bear true for the entire EP.
Right from the get-go, she embodies the good vs evil overarching storyline, as she sings in the opening lines, “I kiss your brother, I steal that heart / You can’t even feel the poison, My pleasure”. The gracefulness in her voice is never lost, although its sentimental quality is not sacrificed either, as she swings from delivering weightless vocals to soft growls.
While the signature whistling sound that appears in the chorus makes it as catchy and intoxicating as a song can be, the poise and emotion in her voice create a nice contrast over the heavy bass. Together, they add onto the eeriness of the track, and imbue the record with powerful elegance from the very beginning.
Through the perfect flow of the b-sides
The remaining five tracks share a similar sinister and poised ambiance as the title song, a style that seems to suit Seulgi like a velvet glove (pun intended).
The second track, Dead Man Runnin’, marks the artist’s songwriting debut, and does so in a strong and firm way. In the R&B pop dance tune, the singer showcases her potential as a grand storyteller, depicting the sorrows and vengeance of heartbreak in a captivating manner.
The third song on the track is a bit of a full 180 concept-wise compared to the previous ones, yet it still remains somewhat cohesive sonically. Just as its predecessors, Bad Boy, Sad Girl is an R&B genre song, only with a medium tempo and a brighter attitude. The lyrics talk about two people who cannot sleep due to them having a crush and thinking about their feelings – a much more lovely vibe compared to the first two tracks.
Bad Boy, Sad Girl features rapper BE’O and is the only track on the EP that includes a collaboration – something that proves to be a winning choice. Whereas Seulgi shines on her own in the other five songs, the harmonious mesh of their vocal colours might be exactly what carries this track smoothly to its end.
Fourth track Anywhere But Home continues this brighter narrative, taking on a breezier and softer sound with this disco-style R&B dance pop tune. As the lyrics tell the story of going for a ride to an unknown location, Seulgi’s vocals emulate this lovely and free atmosphere, by exquisitely harmonising with the fresh production.
This trend of encapsulating the lyrical meaning through the production continues in the fifth track Los Angeles, an exhilarating EDM dance pop track. With lyrics talking about the uncertainties of following one’s dreams in a new city, the metallic electronic drops seem like a nod to the glittery L.A. skylines and the mysteries there may be in the shadows. Whereas, the enticing tempo reminds of the fast paces that run high in a big city like Los Angeles.
Lastly there’s the R&B dance pop Crown, where she embraces a gloomier yet more powerful appeal over the synth medley and heavy drums. In this last song, Seulgi once again plays a character, by assuming the role of a ruler speaking from their throne. With a chorus that resembles a back-and-forth between a shouting crowd and its absolute, this track makes for a most-fitting grand finale to this EP and the narrative it encloses.
28 Reasons and more…
As a member of Red Velvet, Seulgi was already able to shine on her own, but on this solo debut she burns most fervently and brightly than ever before.
28 Reasons (EP) showcases all her wits and talents, as both a masterful performer and a skilled vocalist. All the songs are of great quality, both lyrically and production-wise. But it is Seulgi’s vocal delivery and her ability to use her voice as a means of storytelling that make them as impeccable as they are.
This record is not only a spectacular solo debut, but a great album in itself as well. And even more importantly, it is a great testament to all the potential Seulgi harbours, as in this EP she gives every reason why she’s worthy of her fame. And she gives far more than 28 reasons.
Verdict - 9/10