I was first alerted to the brilliance of Korean surf rock four piece Say Sue Me, when a brilliant track from this compilation, My Problem (see below), was seemingly played on loop on a little known indie music podcast that I listen to. It is truly a fantastic track mixing surf rock jangle, incidental vocals and the faintest semblance of the Field Mice’s Lets Kiss and Make Up riff oozing persistently in the background.
After searching for the above track on the internet it was located on this self titled compilation. As their first release outside of Asia it includes their debut 2014 album We’ve Sobered Up,
follow up EP, Semin (2015) and Michelle Marie
which is a previously unreleased 2017 bonus track.
All the above makes a solid compilation that is presumably designed to attract the uninitiated in the western world to their multi-faceted abilities prior to the release of their first ‘real’ album beyond Asia, that is due to be released in April 2018 (Where We Were Together that is already available for pre-order on the Bandcamp link below).
This compilation perfectly displays the ease in which Say Sue Me lazily drift around several different musical stylistics, that are all loosely attached to jangle-pop and surf rock. Initially, they plainly have a passion for all things 60’s surf rock/pop. Tracks like the title track, One Question and the inimitable Fight The Shark (see below) all have that consummate deep rumbling bass line present, reminiscent of a track like Flight of the Surf Guitar by The Atlantics. These tracks should really be the throwaway, fun tracks of the album, but they are done with such artistic prowess that they are equally as meritorious as anything else of this excellent album.
Probably the group of tracks where the album excels optimally is when the jangle-pop is accentuated and mixed with the sweet indifference of front woman Choi Sumi’s strangely beguiling vocals, that inspire notions of any number of mid-90’s Britpop vocalists who made ‘bored’ sound incredibly sexy. These tracks include My Problem, What I have to Do, To Be Wise and my personal favourite, You Know I’m Kinda Boring (see below).
Throughout the initial listens of the album it was perturbing as to which band they reminded me of. Then it dawned on me that it is all very Starry Eyed Cadet
(an American band out of San Francisco who also have largely eastern Asian roots too), especially in the ease with which the jangle-pop tracks intermittently drift off into more shoegaze nuances.
In fact, tracks such as Bad Habit, Let’s Don’t Say Anything and especially One Week (see below) lather on the reverb, distortion and echo machines far more than their American counterparts, whilst always ensuring there is just about enough jangle shimmering in the background to ensure that the forlorn introspection of shoegaze, remains a choice rather than the only option.
If this album was merely the teaser / taster for the western world then it most certainly sets huge expectations for their April 2018 album release…I for one have no doubt they will deliver more brilliance.