Album name: The Parallels Amongst Ourselves
Artist name: Sugar Army
Released: July 2009
ZME Rating: 5/10
In The Style Of… Mock The Week!
SCENE: A RATHER BARE STUDIO. A CENTRAL DESK IS FLANKED BY TWO LARGE CURVED ONES. A LARGE VIDEO SCREEN IS EMBEDDED IN A SIDE WALL.
BRIAN O’HARA – Good-natured Irish host
HANK E. FOIL – Caustic Glaswegian ne’er-do-well
MUSCLED COWARD – Cheeky chappy
Q. TENNIS – Avuncular poshy
RANDY SARACENS – Painfully unfunny bald man
AL BYRNE – Your humble correspondent, mild-mannered photo-journalist, etc.
O’HARA: (speaking to camera) And now, to our next round. This is called “If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?” There’s a selection of topics to choose from – Al, would you like to do the honours?
AL: I’ll take Music please, Brian.
O’HARA: Music, then – and the answer is “Initially exciting, but ultimately tedious and unwanted.” What do we think the question is?
AL: Is it “What are these kinds of concept reviews generally regarded as?”
(Polite laughter all around)
COWARD: Is it “How did my ex refer to our first night together?” (More laughter.) To be fair to her, I did spend most of the night talking non-stop about her tatty-bo-jangles. And the rest of the night explaining what that means.
O’HARA: That may have been the problem alright.
TENNIS: Is it “What was Prince Charles’ description of the Queen’s recovery from a mystery illness?” (Adopts a foppish voice) “Oh, not popped your clogs yet, old bean? How… wonderful….” (Stares grimly down camera for a number of moments.)
SARACENS: I think I know what it is – it’s “What’s it like when I say things?”
(There is a pause.)
FOIL: (Roundly ignoring Saracens) I know what this is, definitely. It’s “In the most recent issue of Heat! Magazine, how did Kerry Katona’s latest construction worker boyfriend describe her 47th pregnancy this year?”
O’HARA: You just couldn’t go a round without working in a joke about that, could you?
FOIL: It’s as close to a public service as I’m ever going to get.
O’HARA: God forbid. If we could move towards an answer, please…?
AL: It’s “What is Sugar Army’s The Parallels Amongst Ourselves album?”
O’HARA: So, care to elaborate on that?
AL: Well, I mean… they certainly started off with best intentions. They’re pushing all the right buttons – you could say their music is “epic”, “towering”, “majestic”, or any number of seemingly complimentary air-quoted adjectives. But it’s too much, Brian – when every song is so relentlessly effortful, it gets tiring for the listener.
FOIL: It’s like listening to Kasabian at full volume for 85 hours straight, if Kasabian were talented in any meaningful way, rather than being an irritating stepchild of the Britpop generation that should have been aborted within picoseconds of their pathetic gestation.
AL: Exactly. Sugar Army know how to craft a song, no doubt – when I first heard “No Need For Lovers”, I really thought I might be able to get into this band. But then they crafted that song another eleven times, and it just doesn’t sustain a full album.
SARACENS: It’s like, right, if you, right, took an Arcade Fire album, isn’t it? And then made it 400% more bombastic, right? And then you realised what an endlessly looping, unfunny joke your life had become, and that your bald head was the spit-shined emblem of mediocrity in your field, and that the only thing people laughed at during your act, right, was your quaint way of walking. Basically, I’m a prat.
O’HARA: Um… are we still talking about the album? Or has this imbecilic appropriation of a form finally collapsed under its own heaving weight?
AL: No, I’m not quite done yet. How much room have we got?
O’HARA: About a hundred words, plus a pithy conclusion.
AL: Excellent. Look – there’s clearly a talented band in here. And there’s certainly room for an impressively anthemic chorus or two in everyone’s iTunes library, especially when they’re as layered and pleasingly formed as these. If you’re making a playlist filled with Muse and Sigur Ros, they’ll fit right in. A song or two could be huge on college radio, or whatever the post-millennial equivalent is. The internet, I suppose. The guys at Pitchfork might love this like they undoubtedly love their second cousins at every other family gathering. But they wouldn’t have an excellent alt-text for the album art like I do.
FOIL: Hold on, you’re sounding a bit like me now. There’s only room for one irascible grump on this show.
AL: Is that so? Have at you, cur!
(A scuffle ensues. Al triumphantly murders Foil.)
AL: Once again, you lose. Try recycling jokes on the stand-up circuit now, fiend.
O’HARA: Points at the end of that round go to… Al, Q. and Hank E!
- Tongues in Cheeks
- No Need For Lovers
- Maybe The Boy Who Cried Wolf Was Just Paranoid
- Many a Mask
- Building Castles
- You Are A Possession, Up For Sale
- It’s In The Blood
- That’s A Damn Fine Cliché
- Another Loose End