File Under: Easy Listening

(1994), 7/10
After the inspired noisefest of Beaster, it’s back to Mould by numbers on Sugar’s final album. File Under: Easy Listening is cheerier than previous efforts from Mould; he pulls out the acoustic guitar for ‘Panama City Hotel’, while ‘Gee Angel’ is downright happy. It’s more pleasant sounding than Copper Blue, with a more relaxed overall tone and more textural range, but there’s nothing here that’s particularly revolutionary and it does feel like a retread. Having said that, ‘Explode And Make Up’ is my favourite Sugar song, with a punchy arrangement that jumps from acoustic balladry to electric bluster within a few seconds. Bassist David Barbe gets a songwriting credit and lead vocal with the pleasant but generic ‘Company Book’. while some of Mould’s material is also uncharacteristically one-dimensional, like the repetitive rocker ‘Granny Cool’. It’s easy enough to like this record, but it’s just not compulsive listening like Mould’s best work with Hüsker Dü. The three Sugar albums cost me a grand total of NZ $13; see if you can find them all even more cheaply.

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