Album Reviews Music

Local Freak’s Album Review- Sugarmen

Liverpool has a legendary reputation for producing hit bands of both the mainstream and
independent variety, and newcomers the Sugarmen are the docks’ latest export to the British indie
scene. Their long-awaited debut album ‘Local Freaks’, released October 6 th on Sire Records/Modern
Sky UK, is peppered with tributes to the city’s musical past, wearing its influences proudly on its
sleeve. Just one example of this is the interplay of jangly, feedback washed guitars on ‘Our Gallows’,
reminiscent of the swirling neo-psychedelia of bands such as early Echo and the Bunnymen, fellow
Liverpool natives. But inspiration is also carved from elsewhere on the musical map – the album’s
title track builds on the template of the Lou Reed classic ‘Walk on the Wild Side’, thematically at
least, blending New York style street-smarts with a Scouse twang. Its lyrics weave a tale of an
eclectic cast of characters – drunks, outlaws and deviants occupy the ‘broken streets’ of the band’s
home city – while a driving rhythm pulsates behind them.
While these homages could be written off as indie clichés, Sugarmen handle it with a deft and
refreshing touch, weaving simple yet thoughtful lyrics with modern and memorable hooks. There are,
of course, some tracks which hold less impact than others, and which arguably fall close to
accusations of being ‘safe’ and forgettable due to their slightly repetitive nature. However, it boasts
a series of standout songs, including the penultimate track ‘Rabbit Hole’, which begins somewhat
gloomy and post-punkish in its execution, driven by a lingering sense of paranoia in both the lyrics
(‘I’ve tried to keep hold of the things I love, but I keep falling…’) and accompaniment; its bassline
rumbles ominously and its guitars dance jagged and off-kilter. This is followed by a more rousing call
to arms in the form of closer ‘This is my Life’, which melds choppy new wave guitars and a punchy,
defiant sentiment (‘No I won’t get on my bike for a job / I’d rather stay in the city that I love’), a
juxtaposition which once again displays the album’s obvious plethora of sonic influences.
‘Local Freaks’ doesn’t try to break into very new and daring musical territory, but still remains
vibrant and original in its song writing. It is an instantly likeable album with a distinct lack of
pretension, and a must listen for any die-hard fan of British guitar bands.

 

Alys Hewitt

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