Somewhere just beyond the three-minute mark of the new track from Say Sue Me, the universe finds your center and moves into it. The crescendo of guitars, splash cymbals, and then the borderless sense of scale are just exquisite. The beauty of “Just Joking Around” leads us into hyperbole, but it’s hard to remain subdued when this kind of track is on. For a moment, as this cacophonous swirl unfolds, you’re placed in the eye of the hurricane. It’s fucking ace.
The first release since their album, Where We Were Together, this single, “Just Joking Around / B-Lover” serves to further elevate the reputation of a band who captured the imaginations of garage rockers, surf rockers, punk rockers, and indie kids alike. Fans will know “B-Lover” from the album, so let’s concentrate on the fresh, “Just Joking Around”.
Dismantling the track into constituent parts we can discuss a bunch of stuff you can hear. A 90’s approach to strummed phrasing blended with blistering high-end notes. A dynamic that undulates across the emotions. We can dig into the vocal performance of Sumi; the hypnotic breath patterns that are easily joined, but impossible to replicate. The bass that takes the bottom out of the tempo, starting like a stroll, ending like a storm, washing in like an undeniable force. The melody that brings edge and also a level of sublime prettiness. But it’s the atmosphere that’s the measure of this track. The chemistry is perfectly volatile.
There is a point of every good night when spirits are so high, and sweat is so chilling, a vortex opens around you. No one else sees this occurrence, but you feel it. The chaos of a dance floor or mosh pit can feel like a place of sanctuary. You know what we’re talking about. It may be the drugs, but it’s not the drugs. Bands lean into a slower track, they take a breath and regroup. That’s what you think is happening here. Say Sue Me appear to offer a pause, a brief respite from the intensity of things. But no. This the track is a bizarre, occupying force. It makes ear worms appear like ear worms – this is a fucking anaconda. It wraps tight, it steals your breath. So far, this may just be track of the year.
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PHOTOGRAPH BY BUSAN CULTURAL FOUNDATION