In New Age Attitudes, Amanda Sum definitely has something to say, something to show, and something she knows nobody knows. Her entrance is quiet, yet, enchanting. “Sweet on my tongue / linger a little more / cradle my lungs / till I am strong enough to hold my breath under water,” she sings with a blooming boldness. With each unfolding line follows a ricochet of echoing notes; it’s almost as if Sum is discovering another dimension, and we are just at her footsteps, trailing along in this life-long journey she has begun to embark upon as a young Asian woman.
Sum’s breezy vocals quickly melt into a brief, promising silence, before plunging into the start of the second track, “New Age Attitudes.” The gushing welcome of the rallying trumpet and the spirited percussion are anything but shy. Featuring an all-Asian female band and all-female production crew, Sum lays the groundwork in “New Age Attitudes” for a debut that is both empowering when it comes to the well-known torment of navigating through adolescence, especially for BIPOC and other marginalised groups, while also reassuring the non-social butterflies trying to get by in a world for social butterflies.
“I’ve got it together / I’ve got it all under control” Sum assures herself in “Awkward Bodies.” The poppy hook, “We are just awkward bodies / awkward bodies” is almost like a mirror of the anxious mind — unable to shut-up in the absolute worst possible moments. And Sum admits to a universally relatable feeling in “Party Party Party Party,” “I don’t wanna go but I still wanna be invited.” But despite the anxieties, Sum transforms these mantras into catchy, groovable tunes, while still occasionally receding into more introspective moments.
Throughout Sum’s exploration of the self in relation to modern society in New Age Attitudes, the warmth and support of the all-female group is felt in all the highs and lows of the album. Even within the ebb and flow of the individual tracks, the unpredictability of coming of age is reflected and embodied. From the upfront introduction of “New Age Attitudes” to the fast-paced world of “Undecided Minds,” to the spoken-runs in “Meticulous Articulation,” it is clear Sum still has so much more to say about her world and ours