While everybody is now riding the retro wave, Sunmi has been there and done that for a while now, dating back to the Wonder Girls and some of her recent solo releases. It seems appropriate then that she would really dive in on the trendiest synth action now as well, and “You Can’t Sit With Us” aims to take the listener/viewer through a nostalgic trip back in time.
Apologies for the title of the post, that’s a bit of an oversell of how I felt about the song, as there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, I’m quite partial to synthpop and its relatives so it’s hard to dislike even by default. That said, I did find it rather mid, at least eventually.
“You Can’t Sit With Us” has a solid synth beat foundation, everything moves along briskly enough in terms of momentum, and chorus is acceptably melodic. This all led me to enjoy it on first listen, but on repetition I found myself feeling like it was repetitive and that things droned on and on more than excited me. I knew it was rather safe, but the lack of signature standout moments that would make this pop became apparent. Additionally, like with Somi, hopefully the trend of female Korean soloists doing an Iggy Azalea impression doesn’t become even more of a thing.
Where this comeback does standout is the excellent music video, as the concept and themes are a lot of fun, with retro references galore and special emphasis on the late-90s/early-00s, which makes this a rather engaging, rewatchable nostalgic thing for people like me who were kids during that era. If I’m reading the twist right then it’s particularly interesting, with a mental break of sorts creating this world in her head, neatly grounding things in reality.
After her “24 Hours” sequel in “Tail” and one of last year’s best in “Pporappippam”, this definitely feels like a bit of a reprieve from musical excellence. While some who are dismissive of her work in past years have lamented the breakdown-centric choruses, those were always engaging and had their share of noteworthy moments vocally or instrumentally, whereas “You Can’t Sit With Us” lacks the same kind of breakthroughs. While the thematic concepts and music videos can enhance a song, it’s difficult to be entirely invested when most of the intrigue about a release comes from the visuals rather than the music.