What immediately struck me about this four-track CD when I first listened to it was the quality of the production. There is absolute clarity in the mix, and throughout even the most mental distortion you can pick out each individual track quite easily. Probably the best production on a CD I've ever listened to from a local band - or at least on a par with the Mariko CD anyway.
Good bands can get lost in poor quality recordings, but a good sound won't make a poor band sound good - so even with their well-produced CD how did Sugarvalve fair musically?
Well to tell you the truth, quite well actually. There are two songs of a high standard on this CD, one good track and one that was simply average. And strangely enough this is the order they appear on the CD too.
"Flouxetine" opens up the CD, a 4-minute song with a 55-second Muse-inspired intro. Is that too long? I think that's an individual call, though looking at it slightly differently it could be argued that it's not technically an intro. The same style is contained throughout the song's verses: very quiet guitars and a lot of focus on the vocals/lyrics. The chorus is typically Sugarvalve - very big, solid distorted guitars and a well-delivered vocal line.
"Flouxetine" is a very good song, though if I had to choose my favourite I'd have to go for "I Beseech You". This kicks in much earlier and is pretty memorable - both in its music and the lyrics.
What made me look hard at the definition of the Sugarvalve sound came in the final two tracks.
I was hoping for something a bit different, but instead I was provided with my only obvious criticism - all of the songs follow a typical quiet-loud-quiet-loud template. Not always a bad thing, but in this instance, especially after two very good songs, it seemed more appropriate for them to add a little variance and show a greater depth of their song writing ability. Despite this "Don't Be Ashamed" is not that bad a song - whilst "I Never Said" is probably the weakest; it begins as if it'll be a ballad but ends up as just a template filler.
If I was in the band, and this CD was to be used as a record company demo too, I'd drop it down to just the first two songs - these are a good indication of the obvious quality within the band.