Friday, November 16, 2012

#118: Sugar Ray - 14:59 (1999)

I listened to this album well over a hundred times "back in the day" and I'm eager to see just how well it holds up a dozen years later. Was it's success based upon Sugar Ray's image and who they appealed to or were they legitimately good? The title of the record is in reference to the saying that "everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame" and it's simply stating that Sugar Ray doesn't believe their time is up. Part of their argument lies in one of their tracks, 'Abracadabra' which is a Steve Miller Band cover (SMB was labeled a one hit wonder (erroneously) "back in the day" as well).

Personal Space Invader
When I think of this album, this is the track that always pops in my head. If you look back upon this album you'll see that the lyrics don't really have any depth and that they try to stay in the more playful, fun range. The opening lick is solid, the melody is good, and it's a unique - then again it's not nearly as solid as I had remembered. Other than the opening groove, there's not much more to the song.

Live and Direct
Very cool guitar part, it's smooth and flows through the track. There's a bit of rapping, some singing, and has a solid melody, however what sets this song apart from the rest of the album so far is the fact that both it's chorus and melody are good. The variations in the vocals keep you interested throughout and rhythmically it's the most solid on the album.

It's songs like this that really launched Sugar Ray onto the pop radio spectrum. It's got a nice, chill groove to it, the bass holds it down incredibly well, guitars duel it out (softly), so that Mark McGrath sings some really beautiful melodies and passable pop lyrics. It's the chorus that really allows the track to shine, a Hammond Organ really fills it out allowing so much warmth in such a small sonic space and the band does such a great job bringing it back to the verse.

All in all, I enjoyed it. Looking back - it's fun. I must remember this album with a bit of nostalgia and rose colored glasses because it's really not all that good. I mean, it's good, it's pop. It's just nothing that will stand the test of time. I found myself singing along to some of the songs even though I hadn't heard it in 10+ years. One of Sugar Rays greatest strengths was introducing counter melodies through electronic instruments and guitars, the songs use excessive vamping and they really do a wonderful job keeping the listener engaged.

Tomorrow's album: The Beatles' Revolver.

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