Rolling Stone

Say Sue Me: Sweet Indie Rock from the Seaside

Close-knit South Korean band aims for ‘bright energy rather than sadness’ on their great new album


‘Icould barely speak when I was four years old,” says Sumi Choi. “But I did sing, and I would sing this very sad song.” There’s a pleasant candor in conversati­on with Choi, 34, the lead vocalist of the Busan, South Korea, quartet Say Sue Me: Even across Zoom, and with assistance from an interprete­r, it’s evident that the cozy surf rock that has brought the group an internatio­nal audience is rooted in the members’ easygoing attitudes. On their third album, The Last Thing Left, Choi and her bandmates — guitarist and songwriter Byungkyu Kim, 37; drummer Sungwan Lim, 34; and bassist Jaeyoung Kim, 25 — expand their range with more emotional nuance and bigger melodies than ever before. “We’ve always been sincere,” Choi says. “But we want to deliver bright energy rather than sadness.”

Say Sue Me have never been tied to the prevailing musical trends in their home country. Since they’re based in a sunny beachside city 200 miles southeast of

Seoul, the densely populated capital, they are far from South Korea’s biggest pop stars and undergroun­d acts alike. They’re not working in the mold of the past three decades of Korean indie bands, either:

“We listen to a lot of American indie-rock music,” Choi says. Byungkyu Kim adds a lovely sentiment: “Everything in Korea is focused on Seoul, but we were born in Busan and never left. We can find meaning here.”

The band practices in a space close to Busan’s Gwangalli Beach, whose crystallin­e cove faces skyscraper­s, restaurant­s, bars, and hotels. There’s a feeling of genuine camaraderi­e at the heart of the group’s music, which can make the lonely process of songwritin­g challengin­g for Kim. “But when we come together and record,” he adds, “that’s when it’s fun.”

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