Monday, June 20, 2011

The Sweet Rides Out The Fame: Sugar Ray's 14:59

The Good: A few tracks come together lyrically and musically
The Bad: Packaging, sound, most lyrics, instrumentals
The Basics: Nowhere near as good as what you've heard on the radio, 14:59 is not worth your time and money!

I've long felt that everyone ought to have a system to how they buy music, mostly to prevent them from appearing at the store every week to cash in used c.d.s to afford new ones. Personally, mine is I only buy a c.d. after I've heard and enjoyed three singles from it. With Sugar Ray's 14:59 I learned that this method is the ideal one. I purchased the c.d. after the second single "Someday" was released. I cashed in 14:59 a few weeks back. Had I waited until the lyrical dullard "Falls Apart" came out on the radio, I would probably never have wasted my money in the first place.

The bright spots of 14:59 are "Every Morning," "Someday," and the non-radio track "Ode to the Lonely Hearted." What these songs have in common are they're well mixed, lyrically interesting and well sung. In short, they have a mid-pop rock tune that is easy to listen to and actually has decipherable, interesting lyrics.

But even "Someday" alludes to the flaws of the rest of the album - it doesn't say much and the rest of the album doesn't say anything (or in the case of their cover of "Abracadabra," nothing new). That is to say 14:59 is largely ear candy. It's easy to listen to some of the tracks (notably the radio singles) but they do not say much. There is no deeper message, nothing to read between the lines. I tend to call this "summer music" because it's the infection pop songs you hear in the summer when wallets seem to open easier for new music.

Add to that that they're not saying anything well or even in a musically pleasing way on the non-radio tracks. Often the songs are musically aberrant, like the jumbled sound of "Live and Direct" which only seems to be on the album to allude to another artist and attempt to make more sales by using his name. The "New Direction" tracks are instrumentals that seem out of place on the album.

Adding to the often bland, unintelligible lyrics are uninspired and incompetent instrumentals. The two "New Direction" tracks are pointless, the duet with KRS-One ("Live & Direct") is downright bad. Add to that the packaging. It sounds stupid, but the only thing more annoying than the songs is trying to find the title of the crappy track on the c.d. case (the track listing is on the front spine).

Outside the wonderful "Someday" and the "better than radio tracks" "Every Morning" and "Ode to the Lonely Hearted" there's nothing even good on the album. It's not that they don't measure up to how good those three tracks are, they're positively bad. If Sugar Ray had better writing and stopped trying so hard to be a rock band, learned more than five notes (or even a few chords!) on the guitar, maybe they could make an album that wasn't so utterly unlistenable.

For other, similar, artists, please check out my reviews of:
The Masterplan - Oasis
Stadium Arcadium - Red Hot Chili Peppers 
Forty Licks - The Rolling Stones


For other music reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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