The Parallels Amongst Ourselves

Sugar Army

Shock Records, 2009

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The debut record The Parallels Amongst Ourselves, by Perth, Australia’s Sugar Army, is mind-blowing, and it doesn’t take much to be awed and amazed by this band, too. For the defeatist diehard followers of rock music that harbor the belief that good rock music is a dying breed, this album offers solace with a heady blow.

The band’s style of hard rock music has heavy influences of Beatle-esque psychedeli, in the same manner as Kula Shaker. But as opposed to Kula Shaker, Sugar Army’s music isn’t quite as entrenched in the ‘60s rock n’ roll sound; it embraces a more modern post-grunge approach. In a way, Sugar Army shares a lot in common with post-punk revivalists like Interpol with their chunky guitar sounds and attention to the rhythms of the drums and the bass guitar, which are galvanizing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Still, Sugar Army is not what one would call a typical post-punk revivalist unit. Parallels doesn’t thrive at the mercy of a single monolithic sound, and most importantly, lead vocalist Patrick McLaughlin isn’t the kind of morose, monotonic singer. Even though he and the band resemble Interpol so very closely on “Detach,” which is brilliant all the same, that cut doesn’t represent the rest of the album. As a matter of fact, the album starts off with the rousing “Parallels,” which has the flamboyant glam-rock brashness of The Music, which is heightened to a new level on “Maybe The Boy Who Cried Wolf Was Just Paranoid” with an even grander “glammy” display of guitars and vocals – anything but the restrained emotionless of post-punk.

Throughout Parallels, Sugar Army almost never tries to get too serious. There is no shortage of tongue-in-cheek, even in the darkest moments of the record (object lesson “No Need For Lovers,” which is supposedly based on a murder case in Western Australia involving two teenage girls who killed a friend to see whether they would feel remorse at the deed). However, the song has a playfully upbeat tone like no other cut on the album. McLaughlin’s animated vocals are amazing enough to add a tone of mischievousness to whatever song he sings, without sounding comical

Although there is no such thing as perfection in an album, Parallels sounds meticulous. From its inventive percussion work, aggressive tempo changes within a track, and cleverly incorporating various influences, the music is so rich with minute details that fit together so perfectly that they go a long way in adding oodles of character to a song. This is a grand album, with none of the pretentiousness.

Every so often there comes a band that starts a new chapter in a genre. Sugar Army is too new and unknown to be leaving a mark in rock music. But Parallels sure is one heck of an album that is no less outstanding than some of the best releases of the post-grunge era.

Rating: A

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© 2010 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Shock Records, and is used for informational purposes only.