Minimal R&B has found a rightful revival in contemporary compositions, perhaps of subconscious interest in the indie persuasion thanks to a renewed cultural interest in vulnerability. Though Red Sea has been emotive since their early guitar-driven advent almost a decade ago, “I’m You” is a surest saturation of the hyper-saccharine we’ve seen from this ATL-based group yet, an endearing ballad, reminiscent of glossy 90’s gold.
As musical shapeshifters, from eager indie rock, fresh-faced in the fledgling of youth, to math-stained art-punk, Red Sea has had a distinctive style of their own regardless of genre flirtations. With prog undertones no stranger to any era, whether in past post-punk or current electro-pop focus, the quartet always conjures thoughtful (and sometimes cryptic) output, their most recent work exploring more delicate energies.
“Honestly, mainstream pop is so flamboyant and queer to me. I prefer to derive my inspiration from those environments these days. Synthesized and/or high-tech production elements feel better as tools, regardless of whether or not they display a traditional form of natural talent,” singer and bassist Mick Mayer explains. “The future is queer (relatively) and so the more we can express ourselves in new, experimental, integrative and perhaps unstable ways, the better.”
This is no diss to guitar-based groups, but more so noting that music which moves has been a development. Dancing itself has become a favorite method “to explore and express the feminine and queer aspects of myself” according to Mick, who has also emphasized the ongoing process in communicating queerness at large, whether it be physical outer presentation or the comfortability in having a public boyfriend.
“Prioritizing, being proud of my self-image and sexuality rather than cradling a desire for other people to be accepting of me… Having the courage to bring your insides out can mean separating yourself emotionally from certain loved ones, for the good of all,” Mick says of the constant metamorphosis.
The Sugar & Spice album artwork itself is exceptionally frilly. In a Rococo room constructed in part through digital rendering by drummer Patrick Mayer, the photographed group members are adorned in Renaissance silhouettes, modernly deconstructed in sheen fabrics of greys, cremes and blush designed by singer/guitarist Kyle Sherrill and colleague Roehm Hepler-Gonzalez. The highly computerized environment is in part a reflection of the album’s musical production. The group has learned greatly how to be adaptable and guitarist Stephen Luscre and drummer Patrick Mayer have been instrumental in shifting between midi pickups and drum triggers from the standard setups. Stunning details are nestled within the artwork, including portraits by Bill Mayer.
“I’m You” is penned about ego-death, a solipsistic point-of-view questioning reality and resulting in empathy, in the guise of a lovey-dovey duet between singer Mick Mayer and sister Elle Mayer, Jackson 5 vibes notwithstanding. This is the 3rd single from the upcoming Sugar & Spice full length, set to release Feb. 22nd on Truly Bald Records. Late last year, Red Sea released “Jumprope” and “Love is Blind”, a wistful jam of hidden meaning, along with a video and its perplexing philosophical tale involving street drugs, alternate realities, dance floors and dungeons.
Sunni Johnson is the Arts Editor of WUSSY and a writer, zinester, and musician based in Atlanta, GA.