Wendy - Like Water: An Album Review
"My love is like water filling your sore spots, it covers the deep wounds and embraces you tightly. It makes you rise again.”
The 5 member K-Pop group Red Velvet is known for its musical diversity. Ranging from funk ("Rookie") to electro-pop ("Red Flavor") to jazz ("La Rouge"), one thing consistent throughout their releases is their incredible vocals. Ranging from smooth like honey to sharp like a knife, the backbone of the group is 5 different yet cohesive voices working together in unison. However, one voice, in particular, stands out: Wendy, the main vocalist. Her singing is easy to make out; whoever is reaching notes on a range that most singers would kill for is Wendy. No doubt about it, Like Water, Wendy's first major solo project, perfectly encapsulates what ReVeLuvs (Red Velvet's devoted fanbase members) have known since 2014: Red Velvet’s vocals are the highlight of what makes the group so special.
This EP didn’t come out of the blue, however. In late 2019, Wendy suffered a major fall, enduring several injuries. This forced her to sit out during all of 2020 recuperating while her group continued activities. This time heavily affected Wendy: the theme of overcoming adversity is present throughout the 5 songs. Wendy's return to the K-Pop scene is significant in multiple ways and illustrates how our favorite stars get through hard times similar to the ones we face on the regular.
TRACK ONE: "When This Rain Stops"
Standout line: "The many things that I could see only after I slowed down one step: the hidden place, and the many voices that waited for me there.”
Opening up the album is a piano-led ballad. It’s the perfect start; the soft instrumental perfectly coordinates with Wendy’s clear, crisp voice, the one that listeners will be treated with for the next 19 minutes. The lyrics tell a message of hope, spreading the message that in hard times, just taking a break can bring you comfort knowing you are supported and loved by many.
TRACK TWO: “Like Water”
Standout line: “Although they rush in as if they'll shatter, the waves return to the sea so quickly. As if by fate, the end of this road is all flowing towards you.”
The title track of the album, “Like Water” continues the theme of support. Wendy sings about a relationship where she and another rely on each other to get through painful times in their lives. The guitar and drums in the background make for a triumphant tone, signaling that the relationship makes both of them stronger and complete.
TRACK THREE: “Why Can’t You Love Me?”
Standout line: “My cheeks get colored with a smile; I turn my head away pretending not to.”
With a title like that, it’s only natural to expect that the song will be an emotional one. But, the R&B-style track is fun and danceable, contrasting with the lyrics. They tell a different story, having a theme where the singer whines about unrequited love and begs her crush to like her as much as she does.
TRACK FOUR: “The Road”
Standout line: “Can’t remember the way back, should I just walk endlessly?”
With the mellow, simple instrument, the highlight of this song is the lyrics and their delivery. In a soft, almost lullaby voice, Wendy tells a story of a loved one no longer being in her life and how the world has changed because of that. The climax sounds almost like a wail, coordinating perfectly with the painful theme of the song.
TRACK FIVE: “Best Friend”
Standout line: “Even a heavy sigh after a long day will disappear in the warmth of your comfort.”
The only collaboration in the album led by a handful of string instruments, the last track features Seulgi, the lead vocalist, and Wendy’s groupmate in Red Velvet. Spending late nights practicing together until exhaustion has its effects, this song states in a nutshell what friendship through the thick and thin truly means. Almost a conversation, “Best Friend” sums up the overall theme of the album; relying on others to get you through hardships is needed to stay strong and face life head-on.
Wendy’s first-ever solo album may not have a wildly different sound like previous Red Velvet tracks, but one thing it does show is Wendy’s ability to completely embody the lyrics. Throughout the five tracks, you can hear her true emotions, sharing a glimpse into how she recovered from her injury: her support system getting her through the hard times.