Review: Say Sue Me – The Last Thing Left
National Music Reviews
Say Sue Me
The Last Thing Left
Say Sue Me = Snail Mail + Mazzy Star + Feist
Like many bands in the last couple of years, four-piece Say Sue Me produced their fourth album The Last Thing Left as the pandemic raged and pushed all of us to contemplate our past and question the future. While the record stays true to its indie-rock past, it does what Say Sue Me does best: capture the romantic and toe-tapping essence of ’60s surf rock and ’90s indie. The Last Thing Left takes us through the peaks and valleys of the band’s solitude and does it successfully, with each track paying homage to different eras and sensations.
The songs tick through time, asking the listener to contemplate alongside them. Slow and steady, instrumental track “The Memory of The Time” opens the album with a rhythmic baseline. Drums crescendo and lead us into the next track, “Still Here (feat. Kim Ildu).” The fluid arrangement of each number invites an all-too-familiar feeling as we look back on days curled up in bed, doing nothing but consuming media and letting the unexpected float by. Against the guitar-heavy track, distorted, ragged throat vocals give it a melancholy feel.
“Around You” showcases a warm and funky sound with harmonies and tambourine most indicative of the band’s surf-rock roots. The lyrics grapple with remembering who and what we do have in such a lonely time: “I feel better when I’m around you …” Both “Around You” and the following track, “We Look Alike,” tangle antsy emotions with beachy, psychedelic elements. As we move through “No Real Place,” you sense a desire to keep moving forward.
Slowing back down again with “To Dream (feat. Kim Oki),” Say Sue Me rolls us back into a dream state. While vocalist Sumi Choi sweeps the album with an echoey, smooth voice, “To Dream”—the album’s sole Korean-language track—is their standout ballad. Angelic and more high-pitched, Choi’s voice soars and serenades. As I wrote in my notes, the rapid guitar instrumentation comprises “up-and-down ding-a-dings” (you could say I was at a loss for words).
Title track “The Last Thing Left” is an ode to former drummer Semin Kang and his legacy: “A rockstar has become a legend…” Along with the preceding song, “Photo of You,” and the following, “Now I Say,” the lo-fi tune has cowboy western undertones that are reminiscent of Mazzy Star, Slowdive and other prominent indie pioneers.
Ending on a high note, “George & Janice”—written as a wedding gift for the co-heads of their label, Damnably—is a love song that is most reminiscent of Feist, with a twee, folky rock melody and upbeat tempo. The track takes both the audience and band members out of the lonely funk, introducing new beginnings and celebrating human connection. As Say Sue Me explores the narrative of self-reflection and deserving love, they invite us to do the same. Take a trip through The Last Thing Left and be reminded of the light at the end of the tunnel. –Birdy Francis