Regardless of the sweetness of their sound, Say Sue Me are an unstoppable power. The South Korean indie rockers wrote and recorded half of their worldwide breakout, 2018’s When We Had been Collectively, whereas their unique drummer, Kang Semin, was in a coma; they referred to as in one other drummer to assist end the album, and the songs they recorded with him took on a wistful remembrance for his or her ailing buddy. Proper earlier than the band’s first North American tour was set to kick off, across the finish of 2019, Semin handed away. Nonetheless, they soldiered on. When the pandemic put a halt to their touring, the band saved working. With time to mirror on the whiplash of sudden success accompanied by the lack of a buddy, they retreated to their Busan studio to work all of it out. The band’s third LP, The Final Factor Left, is the results of their soul looking out.
A sentimental shift is straight away palpable; the rough-and-tumble combat songs of previous releases have all however disappeared because the band leans totally right into a gentler aspect. Fairly than in search of the consolation you will discover on the backside of a bottle—the theme underpinning a lot of When We Had been Collectively—they select to face their demons head on, extending an open hand as a substitute of a closed fist. “We need to ship shiny power fairly than disappointment and complaints,” singer and lyricist Sumi Choi tells Rolling Stone. “Now that I’m carried out with what I’ve to/I’ve gotta discover what I wanna do,” Choi sings on “Nonetheless Right here,” signaling equal components trepidation and optimism. Towards the top, guitarist and first songwriter Byungkyu Kim glides in with certainly one of Say Sue Me’s trademark surfy riffs, lifting the monitor heavenward alongside charming vocal harmonies. It looks like letting go; the identical jangly sound they as soon as used to mission anger they’re now utilizing to make their peace.
Although Say Sue Me have narrowed their focus, their reverence for the indie-rock lexicon stays broad. The hovering guitar of the high-flying “No Actual Place” evokes Dinosaur Jr., whereas the sing-songy “Round You” would not sound misplaced alongside Rose Melberg within the pantheon of indie-pop royalty. A few of the kinds they play with spotlight their strengths extra successfully than others. The acoustic slow-burner “Now I Say” would have benefited from the oomph of not less than one hard-hitting expressive aspect. Equally melancholy however extra profitable, “The Final Factor Left” makes use of mournful guitar and snappy percussion to drive it ahead.
“To Dream” is the album’s crown jewel, synthesizing the group’s strengths into an all-out assault. Choi sings in Korean for the primary and solely time on the report—one thing she does sparingly, she says, as a result of singing in a language she’s much less aware of creates an emotional buffer that makes her really feel much less uncovered. That second of maximum vulnerability is properly spent, as fuzzed-out guitar and atonal howling from jazz saxophonist Kim Oki swirl collectively right into a raging whirlpool. It’s the one second of actual rigidity on the album, making the depth of its launch really feel significantly satisfying.