Say Sue Me have delivered Where We Were Together, the second full length album of their career. The band from Busan, South Korea, grabbed our attention with their self-titled debut – the surfy/indie rock sound promised much, and we all wondered what could possibly come next. The answer is in. The energy of that initial release continues here, but with a greater sense of musical urgency, more polish in production, and deeper lyrical deliberation.
The breezy sound that we’d raved about on the heavily-driven track “Old Town” continues across the eleven songs of Where We Were Together. The pace rarely drops, and nor does the focus. Concerns of loneliness, cultural and individual isolation, and the abandonment of things see to drive the themes here, but there’s more.
Perhaps contradiction and paradox are the cornerstone of the album. “I just wanna leave here / but I wanna stay” sings Sumi Choi, as a shiny guitar hook pulls us back to the formative sounds of late ’90’s early ’00’s indie. The band make no secret of the sounds that informed their direction. Rather than reinvent the wheel Say Sue Me enhance given structures with their own designs, so where innovation isn’t as forward-thinking as some critics would prefer, the enjoyment level is set high.
These songs share an affection for people, places, and even some problems. It’s as if dysfunction brings a quality that is more relatable. This disarming, sometimes shambolic approach to subject echoes the influence of punk. For all the light and breathy stuff that makes Where We Were Together an inarguably pretty album, there’s an edge which elevates normal process. Energy, intention, and purity of heart are the highest forms of currency.
Halfway through the recording of Where We Were Together the band’s drummer, Kang Semin, was involved in a serious accident which left him in a coma. Four of the tracks, and the title itself; Where We Were Together, relate to the band’s relationship with their friend. This is where the sadness comes in. “I’m afraid of making new memories without you.” is a line that articulates loss with extraordinary human accuracy. Our own inabilities to handle the everyday chaos of life are examined. As if pain wasn’t enough we now have to learn, on the job, how to persevere.
On the surface Say Sue Me are a light, accessible band. With sing-along verses and the kind of guitar licks that pull the mind back to a more simple era Where We Were Together has every appearance of being built for college radio play. Beneath the surface, in the true substance of material there are darker elements, tougher challenges, and bigger rewards than even their heroes offered. This is classic indie rock for now.
HURRY – LISTEN – SAY SUE ME
PHOTOGRAPH BY BUSAN CULTURAL FOUNDATION