Say Sue Me are a beautiful force.
The Busan, South Korea four-piece (Sumi Choi – vocals/guitar; Byungkyu Kim – guitar; Jaeyoung Kim, bass; Sungwan Lim – drums) provide the kind of sounds that craftily unlock the soul, and not just on record. Say Sue Me epitomise the live music experience, pitting fuzz-laden bursts of noise against nerve-jangling grooves.
Following their 2018 breakthrough record, Where We Were Together, was always going to be a tough ask, however with such a surfeit of influences, Say Sue Me have room to manoeuvre; or, perhaps from the cynical ear, a greater margin for error. Not that the band need to worry about mistakes, for The Last Thing Left gives the us the distinct impression that Say Sue Me are immune from such things.
Say Sue Me have always been worthy practitioners of those instantaneous moments. But unlike so many others, they have the knack of doing it without sounding disposable. It’s the kind of music ones needs in the moment and the future.
And with that, Say Sue Me begin The Last Thing Left with The Memory of the Time. A splendid instrumental that adopts a Yo La Tengo swoon that simply melts the heart, and alongside the lazy Sunday morning jam of Still Here, those Yo La Tengo vibes persist.
Meanwhile, the cosmic haze of Around You and Photo of You sees Choi’s wistful themes being swallowed up her bandmates’ surf-rock sway. It’s the dose of twee we once associated with Belle and Sebastian.
Which is something that Something No Real Place is not. Here Say Sue Me ramp it up with the kind of intensity that dominated Where We Were Together, as Choi’s syrupy yet nervous melodies are some of her best yet (“I’m gonna keep on walking to be brave/ Feeling that you go in the same place of my heart”).
Something No Real Place is the perfect entry point into the next track, To Dream. With seamless rhythms and large-hearted scuzz, To Dream is song that showcases a band truly comfortable in its own skin, which bleeds into the glorious title track: a shogaze reverie of band wearing their influences on their sleeve whilst adding sparkly nuances of their own.
As the journey comes to its conclusion, it’s far from a logical one, as Say Sue Me deliver the two most surprising moments on The Last Thing Left.
While Now I Say holds a similar emotional weight to the heart-wrenching closer from Where We Were Together, in Coming to the End, the real surprise comes in the way of closing track, George & Janice. With a showering of keys and brass that hint of an orchestral vitality one hears in a pub on a Friday night, here we find Say Sue Me in a playful mood, surprising yet gratifying their audience in equal measure.
Both in sound and lyric, Say Sue Me may be the band all about the juxtaposition. Three albums deep, and it seems that Say Sue Me are immune from making a bad record. A band that seemingly freezes time.
While Where We Were Together hinted towards Say Sue Me being the bricks of mortar of modern day rock music, The Last Thing Left only confirms these suspicions. A band that may not change the world, but could very well change yours.
The Last Thing Left is out Friday via Damnably. Purchase from Bandcamp.