“The Parallels Amongst Ourselves” – ‘Sugar Army’ [Joint Review]
We’re just chugging along through all these albums and reviews, and I must admit that the monthly harvest has been prosperous and forgiving. Although about half of my crop has failed miserably, there’s been some hopeful bands, some fantastic music nonetheless, and a wide range of potential-oozing artists. For the past month solid, I think, the decisions for the ‘Joint Reviews’ have been unanimous – even for “Skyscraper…”:
“… All in favour?”
“Okay, so ‘Sugar Army’ it is then.”
The parallels between this, and one “Escape From The Sun”, by the soon-to-be-regulars ‘Operahouse’, are uncanny – perhaps not necessarily 100% music-wise, but certainly with at least one delectable, epic+ masterpiece-track lurking in the album-shadows. And it’s these that make a somewhat simplistic album make it through the doors of Highly Evolved. And here it is:
I’ve got a rhythm going down in my reviews that seems to work appropriately – back in the early days, I just used to hope for the best and wish things well. Slowly, over a number of albums and reviews, I managed to pick apart an album’s genre, then it’s failings, and then finally moved on to specific tracks of notable mention. And it seems to be working, thus far; any complaints?
“Yes… dude, what the hell did you do to us, man?” Foolish Dude One interrupts
[head in palm]
“Hey, crazy, guys, we’re back – wow! ‘Sugar Army’, such a fan!” Foolish Dude Two adds.
“… Umm,” a Hitchhiker lands himself on the three-seater, “… Wow, man – I’ve never been in an imagination before. Cool!”
“Geez, guys, shut-the-hell-up! He’s trying to write his Sunday-BS. Give the guy some peace, would you?”
Well, when I think about genre for ‘Sugar Army’, I’m spent on descriptive metaphor. It’s casual, it’s laid-back, and it’s what I’d expect from the typical-Australian forefront at the moment. Unsurprisingly, all the good stuff’s happening back in quiet old Perth, and the kids over there, oppressed by the suffocating-Sydney and the Melbourne-madmen, have been busy working on their musical-web, catching bigger fish. Hell, ‘Sugar Army’ is just another battalion to the ever-growing Perth scene army, as my partner will probably discuss, and it’s why we love them. Home-grown music isn’t dead, it’s giving birth to a new generation of rock, indie and alternative. And that’s where it likes to sit around, those three-genres – you could toss some post-punk in there for spice, but I won’t go there today.
“Dammit, I dropped it… where’s it gone?” Foolish Dude Two fumbles about, the carpet singed.
Stop smoking in my brain:
“We ain’t smokin’, we’re hanging, dude:” the Hitchhiker gesutres awkwardly.
Hey! Hey, is that a bong? What, O, come on – that’s it, you’re gone.
“… NOOOOOOOO. You Son of a…….. FATHER!!!!!!!!!”
[the abysmal pit shrieks as Satan stirs and laughs]
“… I’ll be good, I’ll be good,” Foolish Dude One answers.
Moan all you like.
Guitar, bass, drums and a voice – that’s it, that’s how “TPAO” powers through. When it isn’t soft, or what constitutes soft on their behalf, it’s loud and strong and emphatic. You’ll find it’s those classic layers of a lead, followed by another lead, followed by some strength-drumming and icing-vocals. There’s not much to go wax-lyrical about here, the ingredients are simple – more often than not, we just get the pancake, on the odd occasion, maybe syrup too, and in “Tongues And Cheeks”, the full-blown crepe with hot coffee, a steaming pile of scones and a whole dollop of jam.
“He Knows, he knows, he knows, he knows, he know-ow-ow-ow-ows…”
Are the soon-to-be infamous lyrics that sound the arrival of one of this year’s greatest songs ever composed. We finally see a break-away from the classic rock, and we see an interesting key-and-tempo shift throughout. The lyrics are like listening to the voices of demons, the guitar, the bass, are the divine instruments of gods, and the voice – O, the strength of mere mortals!
When you hear the phrase:
“… And she knows that if she doesn’t do the things her body asks her to, she’ll waste away, she’s paralyzed, her parts will split and multiply…*” [Second Incarnation]
There’s a sudden explosion of guitar, a fast-paced strumming, and quick-smart lyrics that are as effective as they are memorable. I know for a week-solid after first encountering “Tongues In Cheeks”, I was dumbfounded by it’s epic-nature. I half-expect tracks like these to top on maybe the second album, or even a third, but ‘Sugar Army’ have made damn-well sure that they’re going to be heard with this wailing-cry of a song, and banshee of an album. “Tongues In Cheeks”; if it doesn’t seal them a place in the glorification of Australian-music, will certainly earn them a one-hit-wonder. When this creeps onto mainstream, I’m sure I’m going to find each and every radio-station begging for more, it is INFECTIOUS.
“… Shit, you didn’t say anything about infections when you asked us to come…” Foolish Dude One intervenes.
“… What the hell was that, a big shoulder, wow man, this IS good stuff…” Foolish Dude Two watches on uncaring.
Tracks like “Detach” have this epic-nature dumbed-down a bit, and with the opening pick, and then the boom, followed by some lyrics, it’s another song that examples ‘Sugar Army’s’ distinctive key-and-tempo shift when it comes to vocal genius. I almost want to suggest they sound like somebody, but if they do, I don’t know who – they sound so familiar, that it’s like I’ve heard them before.
“… Of course you’ve heard them before, you’ve played the album a ba-gillion times already…” Foolish Dude Three appears.
“Wow, we’re triplets!” Foolish Dudes One and Two high-five Three.
[And Four, and Five…]
“Oh my god! PARTY!”
Just below this, and we find the track “Acute”, which is another favourite. The tickle of guitar is interesting, almost like a trip-hop backing, and it balances out, again, that lyrical/vocal key and tempo shift. When it gets to the:
“… And we are all the same, and we are…”
… Bit, there’s nice musical juxtaposition between this and the guitar-backing.
And after this?
Well, it’s hard, I know, to top an epic+ track, because all those that follow are just hanging in the sidelines. I’m not too interested in the rest of the album, and it’s probably why I won’t buy it for anything less than $10, because there’s no point spending anything above for the equivalent of a single-want. When it comes down to rating, I’m torn between a four, and a three, but because the other tracks that follow just aren’t sticking in my brain, I’ll have to give it a disappointed 3. Definitely go out and listen, though.
The Enantiomorphic God