Sugar Plant

Hiding Place

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It's interesting to look at Sugarplant's early development in light of the sprawling and epically gorgeous double-album Happy/Trance Mellow, which layered the group's dreamy songwriting with vibes, organs, and washes of ambient sound -- 1995's Hiding Place cops the more stripped-down approach of Dean Wareham and Galaxie 500, but the same languid songwriting which makes Happy/Trance Mellow so lovely (a style that is truly Sugarplant's own) is lurking beneath every washed-out guitar and breathy, stretched-out vocal melody. The Galaxie 500 comparison is no small point -- the interplay between Shin'ichi Ogawa's guitars and Chinatsu Shoyama's bass seems strictly modeled on Dean Wareham and Naomi Yang, and the group's elongated melodies and drawling song structures would be right at home on Today or On Fire -- but tracks like "Slowdown" and "All Alone" are so beautifully composed, perfectly recorded, and unabashedly inspired by Wareham that their slightly derivative nature seems completely unimportant. In all truth, Hiding Place is so hopelessly gorgeous that it seems to surpass Galaxie 500's whole catalog at times, regardless of which inspired which.

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