There’s something about Sui Zhen that conjures up images of reinvention in an industry brimming with countless alternative artists. Enigmatic and genre-bending, Becky Sui Zhen delivers a debut that ebbs and flows through pillowy soundscapes by the eyes of her alter-ego, Susan. With an outsiders perspective that’s disjointed and nostalgic, Secretly Susan is a multi-textured record that’s oracular and infectious, stemming from pop-infused hooks and a strong creative vision.
Washing across a glimmering mystique that remained undimmed from her earlier work, Secretly Susan hears elements from The Body Reset EP, Female Basic EP and Two Seas in an estranged harmony; neither similar or opposites, but incredibly concise and selective in their culmination. As if wandering into a dazed seaside of fluid and drifty ‘Teenage Years‘, the LP opens with assertiveness, swirling around with airy vocals and pulsating synths as Susan notes, “silence is the first thing I remember“.
Unravelling past typical electronic constructs, Sui soon flaunts her fortified vision; fusing swooping high vocals, bossa nova rhythms and aching lyrics in ‘Hangin’ On‘. Flirtatious and quick to pounce on sugary sweet motions, the single courses with energy as it reflects on the “nonchalant“. Alike her estranged promotional art and videos of Susan, the LP soon shifts into a disconnected yet familiar sadness, with second lifted single ‘Take It All Back‘ creating lyrical and aural withdraw. Intrusive and malleable in mood, we’re provoked to question Susan’s consciousness as she addresses ‘Dear Teri‘; pondering on the erotics of her own loneliness and circled amongst distant feelings in ‘Going Away‘.
With her transient voice cascading along the powdery and elegant sounds of Japan-infused lounge, crescendos of electronic waves, folky guitar twangs and minimalistic tones are staple for the entirety of Secretly Susan. Bouncing in with her lead single ‘Infinity Street‘, we’re invited to stroll with Susan in a pastel post-apocalyptic wasteland, hypnotised by eerie reverb and rattling percussion as she howls out, “it’s killing me”. Dabbling between desires and underscoring fears, Secretly Susan continues to indulge in uncertainty and impulsive decisions through the likes of ‘Safari‘ and ‘Never Gone‘; experimenting with 808 beats, glitchy samples and synth-washed undercurrents.
An afflicted and quirky record that materialises the ghostly presence of Susan, this debut is incredibly conceptual and bold, combining electronic stimulus and intuition for an unforgettable journey of the senses. With all tracks textured and rich in composition, the LP invites listeners to linger on Sui Zhen’s visceral but perfectly placed sounds, dissolving in Susan’s persona. As the record draws to an end you can’t help but to wonder, who is Susan? And more importantly, where is Susan now?
‘Secretly Susan’ will be released physically on the 28th of August via Remote Control/Dot Dash. You can read Monique’s REEL TALK interview with Becky Sui Zhen here.