Wednesday, 21 January 2009

First Sugarstealer Review

Sugarstealer, the fourth album from Mr So And So, marks a welcome return for a band who have been off the scene for while now, their last album being 1998’s ‘The Overlap’ (which was the first album to be released on Steve Rothery‘s Dorian label) . Since that time the members had gone their separate ways until principal songwriters Dave Foster (guitars) and Shaun McGowan (bass / vocals) resumed contact in 2005. Vocalist Charlotte Evans was soon back on board and two new members introduced, Anthony Hindley on keyboards and drummer Stuart Browne.

A Floydian soundscape of alarm clocks and birdsong introduces ‘Flying Triangles’, a typical example of the bands ability to blend a modern progressive sound with delicate pop sensibilities. ‘New Years Day’ continues in a similar fashion with an insistent melody and highlights the distinctive male / female vocals. There are a number of mood changes throughout and ‘Bleak Hill’ marks a shift in tempo as the band take it up a gear and, despite the title, boasts an uplifting melody. With its PT-esque riffing ‘Bi-Polar’ is a brooding and intense rocker and rightfully earmarked as the first single. The albums stand out highlight is ‘Falling’ which allows Foster a chance to impress on the solo and is high on both atmosphere and emotion.

Across a weighty eighteen tracks McGowan handles the majority of the lead vocals and at times you can’t help but feel that Evans is somewhat underemployed. Her haunting voice is highlighted on the acoustic interlude ‘Lemon Tree’ and piano led ‘Photograph’. Whilst for the most part the album is notable for its tight arrangements and little in the way of excess closing number ‘(Return of) The Gold’ offers a more extended instrumental workout during the coda. With both a powerful chorus, intricate acoustic work and a soaring solo it provides an energetic close.

Available from January 31st Sugarstealer will be exclusively an online release via iTunes, Amazon, CDbaby, Napster and Rhapsody with the physical format following later in the year. Hopefully this will mark the start of a new chapter in the career of Mr So and So and we won’t have to wait so long between albums next time around.

Rating 3.5
Dean Pedley

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