위댄스 (Wedance), “SUM”
By James Gui · August 31, 2023 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Cassette

Seoul-based indie pop duo Wedance has had a unique presence in Korea’s underground since forming in 2011. Their actual musical output belies their online footprint; their latest album SUM is their second for Beeline Records, but for almost a decade their DIY recordings could only be bought at shows. With upwards of 16 CDs in their Unfixed series, they also released three Produced CDs with remastered versions of live songs, and in 2017 they dropped their “debut” album 하고 싶은 게 많고 너도 그래 보여 (There are a lot of things I want to do, and it seems the same for you too). Their live shows feature the duo, consisting of Wegui (guitar) and Wevo (vocals), showing off their eccentric dance moves and thrifted outfits—but underneath their playful drum machine beats has always been a touch of melancholy. On SUM (meaning “breath” in Korean), they lean deeper into the interplay between dance and emotion, expressing an appreciation for the breath that connects body and mind.

“I think feeling sad is not confined, it is an emotion that is in constant movement,” Wevo told Senggi Studio in an interview earlier in August. On record, title track “SUM” has a swaying, Radio Dept-esque shimmer, yet in their performance for Senggi Wevo swings her arms and runs in place with exaggerated motions during the song’s emotional peak. “When we practiced this song, I really cried a lot,” said Wevo in the same interview. The juxtaposition of exuberance and sadness is part and parcel of their live performance, and on the record itself you can hear hints. Wevo’s aloof, half-whispered vocals carry that vague sense of sorrow through more upbeat songs like “Curiosity Days” and “Silk Shirts.” It’s only on the final track “Thin Line” that the grittiness that characterized their previous effort Dance Pop fully rears its head; the rest of the album is propelled by bright drum machines, reverbed-out guitar riffs, and Wevo’s detached lyrics.

Like the music itself, Wedance’s lyrics are deceptively simple. “Silk Shirts” is especially layered, ostensibly about Wevo’s experience of wearing one of her dad’s silk shirts: “오늘 난 실크 셔츠를 입어 / 바람이 팔 등을 간지려” (Today I wear a silk shirt/ The wind tickles the back of my arms). Later, she sings “저마다 가진 것을 뽐내며 /가진 게 없는 사람은 그걸 뽐내며” (Everyone shows off what they have/ Those without anything show that off too). It’s a breezy bit of advice for living in the fast-paced materialism of the South Korean capital. They slow things down on “We Exist,” while continuing to dispense bits of wisdom: “Not what you’re good at/ Do something fun for you.” In the wide-eyed earnestness on display here, Wedance reminds us to dance, to feel, and to breathe—that existence itself relies on these small things that are easily forgotten.

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