Beaster is where all the energy and anger from Hüsker Dü went. Six Copper Blue outtakes are somehow moulded into an extremely coherent concept EP, creating Sugar’s best and most substantial release. While breakup was a noticeable theme right through Copper Blue, and that album had an undercurrent of pain, this time it’s right on the surface and often downright nasty. Mould uses religious imagery – the title is a reference to Easter – placing himself and his former lover in the roles of Judas and Jesus.
While the central tracks are harrowing, the album is bookended by two gorgeous moments; on ‘Come Around’ the guitars lock into a mesmerising swirl as Mould simply repeats the title, while ‘Walk Away’ is a lovely organ piece that brings the set to a calm conclusion that seems unlikely during the chaotic rock of ‘JC Auto’ or ‘Tilt’. It’s vintage Mould, and it’s far more emotionally convincing than the more commercially oriented Copper Blue, recalling the vintage days of Hüsker Dü. The only real weak point on this release is the overlong coda to the otherwise excellent ‘Getting Better’.
Like all of Sugar’s releases, Beaster should be easy to find cheap, and it’s well worth tracking down.