Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sweet riffs

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Question: How often is power pop so transmittable that you're left understanding exactly why Staind is huge and George Bush leads the free world? Answer: When it's a record crammed of sparkle and wonder, harmonies and longing, big riffs and sensitivity that's obviously too good, too smart and too sweet to nail any sort of mass acceptance.

But it takes real men (boys?) like those in Arizona's Sugar High to reveal the compassion and acceptance in chords and song, particularly ones sprinkled with bells, mellotrone, tambourine, hand claps, a sitar thingy, strings, harmonica and guitar tones that sound all vintage. Let the Sunshine Out presents bubblegum nihilism, straight-between-the-eyes pop and song-driven rock 'n' roll with gentle restraint juxtaposed against literate lines of alcohol-based losses, revelations and, of course, sprightly turns involving The Girl — themes that actually become redemptive, as reflected in the album's title.

Singer Adrian Evans is blessed with a breathy midrange that'd put goosebumps on dudes comfortable with their sexuality as much as it'd put twinkles inside chick miniskirts. His lyrics show healthy library card usage and we feel the hard "the cold floor" at his "cheek" as much as the "suicide postcards of Rothko and Van Gogh" from his love whose red flags finally flew.

Reference points bloom: The Kinks-ish "The King" and The Gin Blossom-y "Everyone Has to Go" and the baroque-ish bridge in "Around You" finger-pistols late-period Zombies. Other bursts of style and taste abound too, namely Cheap Trick because there's a cover of their brilliant "Oh, Candy" (about a trannie's suicide) included. Tackling that song could easily be a huge misstep; the deceptively tricky Rick Nielson song structure and harmonies are as difficult to grasp as Robin Zander's dynamic vocal range. Shit, it'd be like covering, oh, say, "Magical Mystery Tour." But SH does CT proud.

Gently picked guitar motifs and instrumental swoons finish and start songs throughout and the tempo change in "Do Yourself a Favor" is a quiet surprise, tender as a spring sunrise. And there are indisputable perfect-world smashes including "My Star," "Scatter" and "Tainted." Out looking for Dwight Twilley poltergeists or the record Super Deluxe should've made to become super huge? Here 'tis, kids, and then some. What's more, this clever, 12-song pop tart was produced and mixed in pure analog joy by the unheralded Bob Hoag; so it's a sonic marvel, natural and engaging. Go to sugarhighonline.com or notlame.com.

Brian Smith is the features editor of Metro Times. Send comments to bsmith@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

February 24, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation