ALBUM REVIEW: SASAMI, Squeeze
Updated: Mar 11
I really deeply appreciate the idea of established musicians putting their favorite new acts “on”. Whether through touring, social media reposts or more directly through features, it’s a curation technique that often breeds great results. I remember back a few years ago I had no idea who Yves Tumor was, they were kind of on a “if ya know ya know” basis. That was until my favorite artist Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange started to publically fuck with them, now Yves almost rivals Hynes in my eyes. Back when I didn’t fully appreciate Mitski, she was singing the praises of SASAMI quite a bit. I checked out her music, and it was pretty cool but it never blew me away. Tracks like “Turned Out I Was Everyone” were a little too low production value for me, blending into the mumblecore indie landscape. I enjoy it more now, partially because I also have fallen in love with Mitski’s music as well. The artistic similarities are there for sure, Mitski’s Puberty 2 is full of oddly programmed vintage drum machines just like SASAMI’s debut, and the poetic qualities of their writing match up too.
While I don’t think the apprentice is jumping over the master in 2022, she is certainly doing something way different. On her second album Squeeze, she goes from sasami to SASAMI, cranking the volume way up. Take cues from her old band Cherry Glazerr, she is a rock icon now. The first single for this record “Sorry Entertainer” sounds like a Brooklyn dive-bar blues rock rampage, complete with “too cool” subdued vocal work and double bass drums. The music video, directed by Patti Harrison is absolutely fucked up, gross and full of personality. I can say roughly the same for the opening track of Squeeze, called “Skin A Rat”. Both of these songs successfully seek to push SASAMI away from the softgurl playlist aesthetic she comfortably napped in before. Now, she is covered in blood and drinking Four Loko out of a rusted bucket, at least that’s where my mind takes me. The guitar wailing on the title track featuring No Home, as well as its lyrics about transforming and conforming remind me of Under The Skin. The burbling bass and rapid fire drum fills continue to get more intense as SASAMI nonchalantly shape shifts into a beast.
If she would’ve just gone hard the whole LP, it could’ve ended up much better or more boring. However, we’ll never know because she is not satisfied sticking to one style. Across a lean 32 minutes, she swims in the sounds of ‘70s AM folk-rock via Weyes Blood (“Call Me Home”, “Not A Love Song”) as well as Stooges-style heroine post-punk (“Need It To Work”). For the most part, she remains in a low and quite vocal register. Most of the time, this aids the song in contrasting with the harshness. As a whole, the record would have benefited from more wild singing as on “Sorry Entertainer”. However, keeping it quiet on a song like “Say It” gives it this industrial edge that makes it one of my favorite songs of the year. The bleeping synths click in with percussion and riffs like clockwork, it’s a perfectly tinkered and engineered machine that SASAMI masterfully operates. “I’m calling you back to me/Rip it off” she commands, just before her voice switches up from monotone to sweet. The track is very versatile, switching moods effortlessly. Generally, the album stands out to me for how it genre-bends, shreds guitar-wise, and never really hits a speed bump on the songwriting front. SASAMI is not in her final form yet, she just found her sound, so keep an eye out.