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Sugar – Beaster EP

Rykodisc, 1993

This review is going to complete my trifecta of Sugar releases that I’ve obtained for a buck or less.  As a Husker Du fan I’ve had a fondness for Bob Mould’s Sugar outfit if only for the heavy, enveloping guitar he likes to inflict.  I’ve also grown to like his vocals even if they always seem to be in the background and recorded lowly.  But there’s only so much Sugar you guys may want to read about, so though I’ve already written about them here and here, I’ll finish up with “Beaster”.

It’s a short release and compiles a few of the extra songs from the “Copper Blue” time period.  Truth is, I believe that I heard this record before I heard anything else by Sugar, so my impression was that Sugar was going to be an extension of Husker Du.  That, ah, is not entirely true.  Instead, Sugar is a rock band that has more of an interest in pop and soft stuff.  Although most of their songs seem to never get really going, “Beaster” has a few numbers that really ramp up the energy.

In my opinion the best song, and I mean the BEST song by Sugar, is “Tilted”.  This song lays you out.  The song’s immediate urgency with the rapid drum intro, as well as its follow through on verse guitar noise, clearly makes it one of the best rockers I’ve ever heard from these guys.  It didn’t even make the album of “Copper Blue”!  I can’t believe it.  You should go find it and listen.

The other songs on the EP are a mixed bag.  “Come Around” is a bit meandering and, unless you like the sound of Mould’s repeated smeared take on the title, may or may not be an enjoyable song for you.  I think it ranks a few tiers below “Tilted” for me, which gives you a little foresight of how the rest of the songs go.  Well okay, “JC Auto” and “Feeling Better” are more typical Sugar songs in that they have a bouncy chorus and an impression of upbeat subject matter.  They don’t really stand out if you’ve listened to a lot of Sugar.  Finally, “Walking Away” is a prettier track that primarily features a synthesizer and really fuzzed out vocals by Mould.  It definitely sounds like an album ender, but with “Man on the Moon” as a well regarded conclusion to “Copper Blue”, this tune didn’t stand a chance.  So here it lies.

A fault that Sugar has with most these songs is that they are much too long.  Except for “Walking Away”, all songs are more than four minutes in length.  “Feeling Better”, which is the longest at 6:22, feels like it is ten minutes long.  Oof.  The worst thing a band could do is assume that their song is so good and catchy that it could just be repeated at length.  “Feeling Better”, as well as the other six minute epics of “Judas Cradle” and “JC Auto”, should have been shaved down to at most four minutes to keep the interest level.  Wasn’t Sugar aiming for more of a pop sound?  Well, they gotta go pop length too.

I’m telling you, you need to hear this song.  Found a pretty good video of it.

Although I could probably find “Copper Blue” at an affordable price these days, as well as maybe write up something else about another one of their countless EPs, I think this is it.  So I want to thank Sugar in a special way.  They have affordably given me a lot of enjoyment and I believe will do so for anyone willing to take a chance on them out of a dollar bin.  I also feel that they should get some sort of prize for their records’ glorious low prices but high rewards.

Therefore, to Sugar, I bestow the first ever Dollar Bin Lifetime Achievement Award.  You guys have fifteen seconds to make a speech.

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