As Lou Reed wrote about his native New York, so Sugarmen pay tribute to the city of Liverpool to create a storyboard narrative of their hometown. Liverpool has an impressive back catalogue of bands throughout the decades so they have a lot to live up to. In their own words, the album is devoted to “the mad, interesting people we’ve met along the way.” Recorded at the famous Parr Street Studios in Liverpool with producer Chris Taylor (Circa Waves, Miles Kane) this summer they’ve played gigs at Reading and Leeds, supported Jesus and Mary Chain and this month are headlining at the Sebright Arms in London. They have quite a following.
Sold starts off impressively. It’s frenetic, breakneck speed 60s pop/alt rock. Although the beat is imitative they have their own take on proceedings. This holds some clout. Our Gallows is punchy and has a slight early 80s feel with some catchy riffs. Thunder in the Foothills is another strong song with great drums. Some of the tracks aren’t as instantly memorable as others but this doesn’t draw away from their energy and passion. They sound like they’re having a good time which is always refreshing. Although Time isn’t a favourite I do like the Magic Numbers feel to this one. Central Line has some foot-tapping guitars and an exuberant feel. It reminds me a bit of the Jam but that’s possibly the London Tube reference. There’s also an element of the Clash in there too. There’s a guitar sound throughout the album that sounds like the Shadows in a Spaghetti Western (particularly evident on Save the Feeling (Euphoria Tequila). I love it!
Rabbit Hole is moody and melancholy with some great riffs, Bowie-esque vocals and an eloquent finish. After a few listens this is my favourite. This Is My Life is youthful and defiant with the lyrics “No I won’t get on my bike for a job / I’d rather stay in the city that I love…this is my life and it’s all right”.
Whilst they take their influences from obvious places they manage to bring an injection of their own inventiveness and verve to the album. You feel like you know this band and have heard them before but they have their own freshness to add to the mix.