Independent release, 2010
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/10/2010
Sugar is absolutely fantastic. But its brilliance isn’t without the taint of abject unoriginality bordering on plagiarism. For cuts like “Down,” “Deeper Look,” “Twisted And Clover,” and “Don’t Fall Asleep” sound so genuinely like Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine – right down to the droopy guitar chords – that it is downright spooky. But in this gamble of genuinely trying to copy an act that this band obviously reveres, their sincerity and meticulousness in the effort to reproduce a particular kind of sound needs to be lauded: the tracks are so very good that one might indeed mistake them to be from a My Bloody Valentine record.
While The Sunshine Factory might get overzealous in their attempts to desperately fit into the mold of a particular genre (sometimes risking their originality), it is when the band doesn’t try too hard that some of their own personality emerges. The combination of the band’s keen ear for pretty tunes and a desire to cloak its music in a smokescreen of the unknown works dandy when they don’t focus all their energy on trying to just imitate a narrowly-defined style.
A dulcet pop-candy, however, Sugar is not. Although the simple sweetness of “My Bon Ami” arouses feelings of warmth closer to its real meaning – my good friend – than reminding one of a household cleaner of almost the same name, this song isn’t sugary; at least according to the current indie-pop norm. “Sugar Sister,” another such slow and melodic cut, has its sweetness slightly soured by some eccentric violin accompaniment, making it a charming number nonetheless, but in a weird sort of a way.
Stepping outside its hardcore shoegazer bubble, when The Sunshine Factory incorporates other genres in its musical format, it creates the most interesting music: the glam-rock “Smile” and the lesser demonic glam-pop “My Sugar Cane” make for wonderful detours, in addition to the gothic – bordering on grunge – “Head Becomes A Tomb.”
The Sunshine Factory might at times push too hard to prove its shoegazer cred, but even amongst its flaws and moments of weaknesses there is always a great song; the album only goes uphill from there.