It’s been almost three years since Sunmi released anything more than a digital single, making her new 1/6 mini album quite the milestone. Thus far, her discography is best summed up as: “quality over quantity.” Even so, songs like Heroine, Siren and Pporappippam made her a staple in the upper reaches of my end-of-year singles list. New track You Can’t Sit With Us fits well alongside those earlier triumphs, even if it lacks melodic bite.
In a surprising sidestep, Sunmi has opted for a new set of producers on this song. You Can’t Sit With Us pairs her with the popular songwriting team of Melanie Fontana and Michel “Lindgren” Schulz. Those two were responsible for Twice’s excellent I Can’t Stop Me last year, and this track feels like a spiritual successor. Its 80’s Take On Me-esque synths are omnipresent, driving the structure of the verses. The soundscape coasts on that familiarity. The only break arrives during verse two, when the track staggers into one of those ill-fitting tempo shifts.
Apart from that moment, this is Sunmi by the numbers. She excels at this style, so it’s hard to be disappointed. But, You Can’t Sit With Us’s chorus could do with a re-evaluation. It’s quite catchy, but awkwardly phrased. I blame the English lyrics, which feel ill-fitting within this synthpop context. Less wordiness would have helped smooth out the chorus. It’s like the writers were intent on emphasizing the catchphrases rather than the sharpness of the melodies. Sunmi sells the gangly refrain with ease, so it’s not too much of a concern. But, You Can’t Sit With Us comes across as a strong single that could have been legendary if given a few tweaks.