Formed in 1992 between Bob Mould's second and third solo albums, Sugar revisited the pop-meets-post-hardcore angst of Hüsker Dü with clearer production and more defined melodies. Their debut album 'Copper Blue' was released on legendary UK indie label Creation (the home of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Teenage Fanclub). It's packed full of passionate vocals, irresistibly catchy melodies and grungy power chords. If you're into your melodic indie rock, power pop and alt. rock with some energy, then 'Copper Blue' will be an essential purchase.
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This may seem like sacrilege to many a Hüsker Dü fan, but ‘Copper Blue’ is my favourite album from the Bob Mould camp. Whilst the hardcore punks in Hüsker concealed their melodies in lo-fi fuzz and chainsaw guitar tones, Sugar shouted them from the rooftops, allowing them to dig themselves into the deepest corners of your brain for years to come. If you’re a sucker for a good hook or guitar pop with a grungy bite, then this album is a must have for you.
There’s a certain sheen to Sugar’s music, as if Mould was actively trying to take a detour from the production sound of his earlier punk roots. He’d showcased it before in a couple of his folkier, more introspective solo works and the final few Hüsker records of course, but on ‘Copper Blue’ everything feels pushed more. Cleaner guitars and shimmering production accentuate the melody and the bittersweet yet incredibly introspective lyrics to the max. Bob has said himself that he would have probably never found a market for Sugar unless Nirvana hadn’t blown up with ‘Nevermind’, or that people simply wouldn’t ‘get it’. There was similar music around the time, such as Creation label mates Teenage Fanclub, melodic punk like Superchunk and all the brilliant indie rock of the late 80s or 90s of course. Nothing had the same punch or bite as Sugar though, eschewing the Paisley Underground sound like it never happened, emerging with a driven noise pop sound which would be incredibly influential to Weezer and The Lemonheads.
Sugar are a reminder to me of the music which I love to hear. Music which ticks all the boxes and can instantly make me happy. If there’s tunefulness, crunchy grunginess, immediacy and a focused approach to songwriting then I’m interested. ‘Copper Blue’ is an album that’s almost a crutch, it’s so easy to come back to time and time again that it’s easy to miss out on similar music or exploring the rest of Mould’s lengthy back catalogue.
10/10 Penrith Steve 18th February 2015
I think that this is Bob Mould's best work. Better than his best Husker Du stuff too, and I love that. Whilst I agree with the above review in the most part, I really don't think this album tails off at all. Nose-to-tail great songs and an absolute must-by album. "Changes", "Helpless", "Hoover Dam" and "If I Can't Change Your Mind" are the best tracks, but y'ow, it's all good. And this double CD reissue is even better as you get more of the great stuff, some track are live or acoustic versions of album tracks but there's "The Needle Hits E" which is a worthy addition.
9/10 MissingPlanet 15th September 2014
The record that brought Bob Mould to the masses (along with Malcolm Travis’ genius drumming) is as much of a pleasure to listen to as it always was i.e. like all things pleasurable it tails off at the end. When after half an hour’s listening you have bounced your way through If I Can’t Change Your Mind, Fortune Teller rolls around and some times you like it and some times you don’t. The Slick always grates. It just doesn’t fit with the rest. Finally it’s Man On The Moon. A song that is occasionally good enough to be a standalone listen when you need its exact mood, but doesn’t exactly send you off with a bang.
But hit play and you can listen to The Act We Act again, and who doesn’t want to do that?
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