Monday, October 02, 2017
Album Review :: Sugarmen - Local Freaks
October 6 2017 (Sire Records/Modern Sky UK)
Words: Jane Davies
The much awaited debut album from Liverpool's Sugarmen has a transatlantic feel which is by no means coincidental. 'Local Freaks', produced by Chris Taylor (Circa Waves, Miles Kane, Hooton Tennis Club) at the city's Parr St Studios, was inspired by Lou Reed and the spirit of the streetwalking storytellers of the 1970s, but for the purposes of this 13-track album, New York has been transformed into Liverpool.
Opener 'AC' evokes a very much psychedelic feel, as does tge reverb intense 'The Golden One', before hurtling back along the uplifting melodies of 'Central Line' into typical atmospheric Sugarmen territory with the 100 mph two-minute long 'Sold' and its driving guitars and infectious refrain.
What’s so compelling about
Sugarmen is that they fuse so many influences to create their own unique sound: Parquet Courts, Velvet Underground, The Clash, Buzzcocks, 60s Merseybeat. The curiously named 'Rabbit Hole' even has a Two Door Cinema feel about it. Title track is a blast from the 60s from start to finish; a modern day 'Penny Lane' as the various “characters” are rolled out. You have to wonder whether the line "Tom is pissed and cannot stand” is directed at their own bass player Tom Shields.
Sugarmen are something of social commentators and today’s society is summed up perfectly by 'Push Button Age' where we don’t have to lift a finger anymore and subsequently “our brains are fried”, an energy-fuelled, punchy track with unabashed psych guitar riffs.
Norman Tebbit’s 1980s unemployment strategy is referenced in 'This Is My Life' by the defiant lines, “I won’t get on my bike for a job / I’d rather stay in the city that I love / this is my life!” Times have certainly moved on in Liverpool and bands can stay in the city now to pursue their dreams, ironically thanks to this digital, push button age.
'Local Freaks' is a stellar foundation on which Sugarmen must now build upon to reach the wider world, hopefully that New World that so clearly inspires them.