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Album Review

Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath had proven himself on national television as a walking rock encyclopedia, in a 1998 episode of VH1's Rock and Roll Jeopardy. It was an impressive feat that could explain the divergent styles of Sugar Ray's 1999 album 14:59. Their third album showed an alarming overhaul in their approach, practically moving Sugar Ray into a new genre. 14:59 steered them from their metal shellac toward a calmer, melodious pastiche of songs. The band on 14:59 has versatility nailed down better than your grade-A wedding band: "Every Morning" bounces with the acoustic pop gentility of their 1997 hit "Fly," while "Falls Apart" and "Personal Space Invader" reflect influences from Synchronicity and Men Without Hats. 14:59 also favors the leaner, faster punk of Green Day in "Aim for Me." There's even a frighteningly faithful cover of Steve Miller's "Abracadabra." If there's one criticism of 14:59, it's that if you listen hard enough you'll be playing "sounds like..." for many songs. In that sense it's almost a parody; the inclusion of two comic songs entitled "New Direction" (one death metal, one circus tent) help that assessment. Finally, though, 14:59 has such catchiness and charm that it's a guilty pleasure of high order, and a bigger step than one might have expected from Sugar Ray.


Formed: 1992 in Newport Beach, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Belying their origins as a raucous funk metal band, Sugar Ray created several of the most breezily infectious summer singles of the late '90s, hitting on an appealing combination of sunny pop, lightly funky hip-hop grooves, and reggae lilt. Pegged as likely one-hit wonders after their 1997 breakthrough smash "Fly," Sugar Ray managed to maintain their career momentum far longer than many observers expected, aided in no small part by the pinup-worthy looks of lead singer Mark McGrath. Of course, it...
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14:59, Sugar Ray
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