Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sugar

  • Copper Blue [Rykodisc, 1992] A-
  • Beaster [Rykodisc, 1993] **
  • File Under: Easy Listening [Rykodisc, 1994] A
  • Your Favorite Thing [Rykodisc, 1994] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Copper Blue [Rykodisc, 1992]
The miracle isn't that Bob Mould has progressed, thank God. It's that he's picked up where he left off. After six years spent straining over Warehouse: Songs and Stories and two overarranged records with his name on the cover (why do you think they call them solo efforts?), he not only fabricates a Hüsker Dü album but makes it sound as if it just rushed out of him, like a great Hüsker Dü album should. Never mind who takes Grant Hart's place, because it isn't the new drummer. Fashioning the popwise tunes that were always Hart's specialty and taking on all the vocals himself, the new musician is Mould. Maybe he has progressed after all. A-

Beaster [Rykodisc, 1993]
immanence not transcendence, sonics not songs ("Tilted," "JC Auto") **

File Under: Easy Listening [Rykodisc, 1994]
Loud electric guitar metaphors fall into two basic categories: attack and transport. The buzzsaw, the jackhammer, and the machine gun versus the V-8, the midnight special, and the jet airliner. Bob Mould has always been a barrage man, but here he's in takeoff mode--whether embracing girl-group doo-doo-doos and blues readymades or simply lifting heavenward, his exhilaration doesn't show much downside. The blissful "Your Favorite Thing" (see below) suggests he's running on love sweet love, suffusing even side two's breakups and putdowns with kindness and good humor. It's that impossible dream, an interesting album about happy romance. Remember power pop, all those benighted Byrdsmaniacs and tintinnabulating Rickenbackers? Now imagine it with brains and muscles. A

Your Favorite Thing [Rykodisc, 1994]
Skinflints and formalists both, indie guys resist the digital bloat that sends most releases ballooning toward an hour, and I say good for them. The three otherwise unreleased tracks on this EP would have fit physically onto the new album but undercut it conceptually, and all the worse if few listeners would have noticed. More powerful than Beaster, less revealing than Copper Blue, this is Mould Inc. in "dark" mode. Fans will be content to pay extra for it. Admirers won't suffer if they pass it by. B+