The Sunshine Factory

Sugar

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There's no getting away from the fact that Alabama trio the Sunshine Factory's second album, Sugar, sounds a lot like My Bloody Valentine. From the layers of fuzz and dreamy buried harmonies on the atmospheric opener, "Down," to the Kevin Shields-inspired jagged guitar hooks that dominate the likes of the reverb-drenched "Deeper Look" and the slow-building "My Sugar Cane," to the thunderous "Only Shallow"-esque beats that kick-start the swirling angular rock of "Twisted and Clover," the follow-up to 2009's one-man-show Vintage Revolution at times sounds like a blatant pastiche of the seminal Loveless. But the Irish shoegazers aren't the only recognizable influence from across the Atlantic. The propulsive psychedelic hooks and baggy beats of "Smile" echo the early output of the Charlatans, "Domino" combines the La's-style falsetto melodies with a Brit-pop riff that could be mistaken for Oasis at their prime, while the delicate harmonies and jangly guitars on "My Bon Ami" recall the wistful indie pop of the Sundays. Stuck in an early-'90s time warp it may be, but frontman Ian Taylor's recent recruitment of bassist Sally Robertson and drummer Matthew Hendrich has allowed him to produce a more expansive and authentic Wall of Sound worthy of sitting alongside his obvious inspirations, while there are flickers of invention that suggest he can leave the homage approach behind next time round, whether it's the swooning folk of "Sugar Sister" (one of three tracks that also appeared on the 2009 EP of the same name), the Middle Eastern-tinged finale "Head Becomes the Tomb," or the synth-led outros that close several of the album's more lengthy numbers. Sugar does little to contradict the argument that the Sunshine Factory are nothing more than a MBV tribute act, but it's an act they undeniably do very well.

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