Amanda Sum’s soulful and poppy debut album, New Age Attitudes, is, simply put, A Mood.
Amanda Sum’s debut album New Age Attitudes is, simply put, A Mood. It’s as if Sum has taken your phone, scrolled through the group chat you have with longtime friends and then wrote an album based on those honest exchanges — tears and relatable memes included. A line that has definitely been used in my group chat is the introvert’s mantra Sum sings on “Party Party Party Party”: “I don’t want to go but I still want to be invited.”
New Age Attitudes is not an album of new-age music. Sum writes soulful pop songs with orchestral and jazz touches — her Bandcamp bio describes Sum’s music as “Comfy on keys, and always makes room for a dance.” This comfy and playful vibe keeps New Age Attitudes feeling incredibly fun even during tough times. Exactly like a group chat with your best friends: you can share devastating personal news, but the same text thread also has vapid celebrity gossip and cute animal pictures.
Many of the album’s thirteen songs focus on uncertainty. On opening track “Sweet On My Tongue (Intro),” Sum sings, “there’s so much I ought to know,” and then spends much of the album tightening her grip on reality. She sings about the awkward dance in the early stages of a relationship, fumbling into adulthood, and the weird expectation that you know what you want to “do” with your life when you’re a teen. There are songs for folks who hesitate, whose voice quivers when speaking with somebody new, and those who have to work themselves up to take up space (but do so anyway). The album’s centrepiece, “Different Than Before” (whose incrediblemusic video features the legendary actor Tzi Ma!), is about moving through this uncertainty and landing in a place of hope and determination.
On “Puncture,” Sum admits, “I’m well aware I overshare sometimes,” but that candour is the best part of New Age Attitudes.
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