Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP
Speaking to Bandcamp Daily in 2018, Say Sue Me frontwoman Sumi Choi expressed admiration for Yo La Tengo’s longevity: “[They’ve] had their band for a long time and they’re always making good music. Even when I’m a grandmother, I want to be in this band.”
Though they’ll need to stick together another three decades to emulate the storied career arc of their New Jersey heroes, the South Korean indie pop quartet has already proven their resilience. Turning ten this year, Say Sue Me has already endured the tragic death of their original drummer, Semin Kang, and a pandemic that emerged soon after their sophomore record made international waves.
The Last Thing Left shimmers like the hopeful light at the end of a dark tunnel, combatting grief with jangle-pop hooks and a warm blanket of reverb. In theory, lead single “Around You” might sound cloying with its sing-song melodies and the you-ooh-oohs bouncing around its refrain, but the band’s earnest optimism makes the track work. When Choi sings “something better is around you,” it’s easy to believe.
The record slightly culls the squelchy, fuzz-tinged guitar tones of Say Sue Me’s first two albums, which shared a coastal atmosphere with American “indie surf” acts like Beach Fossils and Seapony, angling for a sound that has more in common with Pavement or Snail Mail. “No Real Place,” driven by chugging low-end, forms a solid wall of rhythm guitar and percussion, letting Choi’s subdued vocal delivery take more of a lead than in the past. Closing track “George and Janice” is a considerable but welcome outlier in the Say Sue Me catalog. It’s completely free of fuzz, instead accented by bouncy keys and a triumphant horn section. Written as a wedding gift for the owners of their label, Damnably, the song is reminiscent of their recent contributions to K-drama soundtracks, like this tune from Yumi’s Cells.
Perfecting their cozy blend of early ‘90s college rock and late ‘60s jangle, the band’s latest effort is brimming with nostalgia—but not for any era in particular. As long as there’s an audience for dreamy major chord progressions and staccato guitar riffs to match, Say Sue Me have the longevity to keep rocking for decades to come.