Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Meet Sugar (Part III)

And now for the final installment of SUGAR!

12 >> The Innocence Mission, "Into Brooklyn, Early in the Morning"
14 >> The New Pornographers, "My Rights Versus Yours"
15 >> The Polyphonic Spree, "Section 22 [Running Away]"
16 >> Glen Hansard, "Say It to Me Now"

* * *
As we come down from the highs of last week, SUGAR opens up the tail end of this comp with a song from a lesser-known Maryland outfit whose MySpace quote is "suntooth/metal wind have a glory jockey wondermane." It's a big tent here, though, and the catchy screaming harmonies provides a perfect pick-me-up before what is going to be the most pleasant of come-downs.

* * *
Toaster Talks have been trying to squeeze an Innocence Mission song on mixes for at least 18 months. Nothing ever seems to fit - at least not perfectly. And then SUGAR found this sudden masterpiece off the band's 2007 album We Walked in Song. The band's standard weightless melodies and dreamy arrangements lead couldn't be sweeter on this track. In my limited knowledge of this band's output, this ranks among the top.

* * *
Oh, Paul! Of course, you can't have a summer-sticky sweet mix without a near-meaningless ditty from Macca. We've gotten a bit of flak for this choice - and perhaps fairly so. But what is important about this song is its triumphant simplicity. Even after an album of many serious, introspective songs, Paul returns to his penchant for the just-plain-nice. He makes no mention of politics or freedom (or, for that matter, taking tea in an English garden). If the man hadn't been going through a bitter - and bitterly public - divorce just prior to this album's release, perhaps it would have been a bit disappointing. But for Paul fans, this was a welcome return to form - and a strong signal that the Paul we've always known was still there after all. And behind all that simplicity is actually a pretty interesting arrangement driven by a loud bass drum and a crisp mandolin part. So, haters, tread lightly: It's Paul McFuckingCartney.

* * *
The New Pornographers have a new album out! Yay. SUGAR welcomes them into her arms to begin the denouement. Continuing the themes of empires and wheels and dabbling in the arts and dangerous levels of medicine that still won't sing, Carl Newman and co. give us a typically infectious piece of pop music - complete with the same vocal prowess and twists, turns, and unexpected et ceteras we've been celebrating for three albums now.

* * *
The Polyphonic Spree have always freaked me out. From their uniforms to their sheer army-sized stage ensemble, I've always expected it all to end in a KoolAid mass-suicide fiasco. Or at least a concept album about one. Still, they're making great pop music, specializing in the anthem. And it's at this point SUGAR's intentions become clearer. "Parades of this day will outshine them all." "I get around the world upon your freeways."

* * *
Even if Once isn't likely to be an Academy Award-winner, it's still one of the brightest spots of this year's movie scene. Even more, though, it's one of the best finds of the music year as well. The Swell Season had gone mostly unnoticed with last year's album and, if it hadn't been for this Fox Spotlight film, most of their now-swooning fans wouldn't know Glen Hansard from that guy who plays down by the Metro who never quite pulls off "Sweet Caroline." This track, while a bit of a surprise for most Toaster regulars (with the screaming and all), is a logic coda for SUGAR, who had spent 15 tracks having fun, dancing and doing recreational drugs. Perilously close to being misunderstood and with doubt clouding her saccarine path...well, yeah, I guess she just loves the movie Once.

I hoped you enjoyed SUGAR: There's dangerous levels of it here. The Toaster will be back to its regular programming next week.

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