They demanded my attention from the start. The first track on Eat Sugar’s debut eponymous four song EP was an unrelenting aural assault. “I’m A Carrier” came blaring out the speakers and slapped me around a bit. I’ve never been much of a fan of what I call “Bleets and Skronks”. You know, the synth-heavy, experimental, No-Wave-ish attempts at furthering dance music? This was something else altogether. Cincinnati’s Eat Sugar has a punk laced pop sensibility that is much more compelling to me than anything Suicide ever did. Aidan Bogosian’s hiccupping vocals the perfect foil to the pulsating synths and driving rhythm section. However, this was challenging music, and four songs were just about right. Any more than that and they would have worn out their welcome.
Through a tireless work ethic, constant touring, and an emerging artistic vision, the band matured. The seven song EP, “It’s Not Our Responsibility!” followed in 2009. A more finely honed approach to song craft was evident, as was a sense of humor (see the video for “Pop
Singer”). The production was cleaner, brighter, dare I say, friendlier. When the sax comes in on “So Into You”, you can’t help but smile.
Last year though, was the artistic breakthrough for Eat Sugar. They self-released their first full length album “Levantense!” in a digital only format. It’s a watershed moment for the band. The rolling drum intro, the in-the-pocket bass throb, and Aidan’s first “Heyah!” make known we are now on new turf. The hooks here are undeniable, inescapable and there is, indeed, more cowbell. The vocal phrasing, and synth-scratches on “The Revivalist” place the band squarely in the ring with electro-pop innovators like The Knife & Neon Indian. They are contenders now. “Levantense!” is the clearest artistic statement the band has made to date, and the most downright satisfying. Which is not to say that this is an easy listen. “Parasite” and “Clap Hands” probably play much better live , but “Shadowside”and “The Empty Set” are revelations! Brooding, soulful. They wouldn’t sound out of place on The Walker Brothers swan son Nite Flights. The greatest gem here though, the slyest wink, the biggest tease, is the final song. If there were any justice in the world, “Troubled Dreams” would be a chart-topper. Aidan delivers his most devastating vocals, Jim Reynolds provides the most sinuous bass line since Wild Beasts’ “This Is Our Lot”, and the song just crushes you.
Oh, have I mentioned the guitar work? No? That because there is none. Eat Sugar is a rock band with no guitar. Take a moment. I’ll wait.
Shortly after “Levantense!” was released, the band signed with Mush Records, thus ending the albums availability for a time. Mush is re-releasing the album in both physical and digital formats this Tuesday (2/22). Do yourself a favor. Get it!!!