A Move to Front and Center
SISU is the pet project of Sandra Vu, and one that has been on the back burner due to rigorous touring as the drummer for the Dum Dum Girls. But the debut album couldn’t be more different than the relaxed surf pop-and-roll she’s used to playing. Blood Tears is midnight black, a spin cycle, a post-punk buffet.
“Counting Stars” is a draggy opener, with Vu vacillating between tears and apathy. “It could have been easy,” Vu cries with a different voice in “Cut Me Off,” an urgent pleading set to a Peter Hook bassline. “Harpoons” is a bleak atonal piece that spills into a half-time wash of a chorus, sounding not unlike The Breeders. “Electronic” is just that, with bright pulses of percussion pulling you into a lush, intimate chorus. Things pop up a bit with “Sinking Feeling,” a straightforward song, both in message and arrangement. Funny that this would be one of the more upbeat song!
“Let Go” is a less impressive track, one that follows a similar low-high-low dynamic to others, with an abrasive swell as Vu sings, “He won’t let go.” The first single, “Return the Favor,” is a good choice, with more post-punk bass paired with a rapid percussion and a strong memorable hook. Definitely one of the stronger songs. “Shotgun Running” is begins with a similar moodiness, but brightens up with an almost hopeful tone: ”One breath is all it takes to move you once again,” sounding more like Natasha Bedingfield than Kim Gordon, in the best possible way. “Sharp Teeth” and “Blood Tears” wrap up the album, with a bit more of the same changes.
The record is consistent, but for its experimentalism could possibly go even further, being a bit “samey” at times. Having released mostly EPs on CD-R and such, the release of Blood Tears is quite an accomplishment– a proper statement of “We are here.” The big question now is whether Vu will continue double duty between her projects, or if she’ll decide to make SISU her main focus.