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Spa

Spa

(Echobase; US: 10 Feb 2008; UK: Unavailable)

Remember Sugar? Spa does. Sugar was the second band of Bob Mould, more affectionately known as the frontman for seminal punk outfit Hüsker Dü, and instead of crafting crazed punk-operas, Sugar was mainly focused on making ridiculously joyous guitar-based power-pop. Of course, that band has long-since deceased, but the feel-good riffing of that band (as well as Cheap Trick) can be felt all over Spa’s eponymous debut. Though at times overreaching (“Beautiful Punk” is more grating than it is catchy), this Auckland trio are primarily focused on bringing mid-tempo sunshine into your life, and tracks like the gorgeous “Neil of Diamonds” and the propulsive “Yale” do just that. For being such a quick-and-dirty debut album (nine tracks that clock in at just under a half-hour) that happens to be filled with enough jangle-joy to make Fountains of Wayne blush, it’s somewhat surprising that the best moment is actually the slowest one: “Growing Up” is the kind of alt-rock slow-dance track that works both as a prom-night ballad and a long-lost Eels b-side. It’s not a perfect disc, but at the end of the day, its feel-good vibes wind up steamrolling over any major grievances. This Sugar is pretty sweet.

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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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