SUGAR File Under: Easy Listening (Creation)

He's joking, of course. After fifteen years of making music so challenging it could set questions for "Mastermind", the likelihood of Bob Mould suddenly mellowing out is not great. Proudly recorded in "no-fi", it nevertheless represents a small sonic step forward from the relentlessly pummelling assault that constituted last year's half-hour sermon "Beaster". However, as a listening experience "F.U.E.L" falls some way short of the very high standard that Sugar have set themselves

It's difficult to know where to point an accusatory finger. The trademark feedback squeals and industrial strength guitarwork are present and correct, smashing through tunes with military-spec intent. Sir Bob's lyrics are angry, disenchanted and venemous to varying degrees of lots throughout. All the ingredients are here, but for some reason the result totally fails to ignite. Perhaps it's the way most tracks sound like the less well-remembered ones on "Copper Blue" (apart from "Panama City Motel", whose similarity to "Come Around", off "Beaster", cannot be ignored). Maybe, as sole producer (for the first time) as well as principal songwriter, Bob Mould's objectivity has, for once, evaporated. Perhaps I haven't played it enough: Sugar's albums, like those of Mould's previous group, Husker Du, are notorious growers. Maybe they've just fallen victim to the fallow mood that seems to be affecting Creation's artists this year. But for whatever reason, odd flashes of quite-goodness such as "Gee Angel" and the bitter "Explode And Make Up" aside, "FUEL" is pretty much an empty oil tanker, albeit one that makes a hell of a lot of noise.

Hüsker Dü

Bob Mould