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Country International Records

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Album Review

The Viennese duo Sugarplum Fairies grew a lot in the period between their 2003 debut, Introspective Raincoat Student Music, and this 2006 release, whose title should not be confused with the name of their label. No longer mere Mazzy Star mimics, they make great strides toward forging an identity of their own here, albeit one still predominantly born of whispers and twangy strums. Production and performance work from Ken Coomer of Wilco fame ensures a pronounced Americana sound paired with a willingness to move in other directions beyond the duo's shoegaze predilections. Standouts include the winsome, breezy "First Love, Last Rites" and the brilliantly understated "When You're Mean," positing vocalist Silvia Rider as a female Grant Lee Phillips. A smart suggestion about the pitfalls of settling for someone animates "Velcro Girl" (as in "you're stuck with"), though its delivery suffers under Rider's resolute minimalism. Indeed, her largely unvarying whisper vocal blurs into its own narcotic haze after a few tracks, making this disc not recommended while driving or operating heavy machinery. Still, it's a strong surge forward for the band, and the lively moments ("Polyester Poetry") outweigh the plodding ones (a dirgey cover of U2's "All I Want Is You"). Country International Records may not be an essential record, but it's a recuperative one in its briskness.

Customer Reviews

The Current Rating Doesn't Do Justice

First, I'd like to express my concern for the previous poster. The review seems pretty unfair due to the obvious lack of appreciation for this music's genre. That said, I would like to praise this album. A soft, unique sound along with the female vocals makes for an overall good music experience. Also, as a side note, under normal circumstances this would probably have received a four star rating from me, but due to the previously mentioned circumstance, it receives five.

I love this album. It's dreamy.


Formed: Vienna, Austria

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Sugarplum Fairies are an Austrian indie pop/rock duo who mix hushed, melancholic English-language female vocals with jangly, often acoustic guitars over spare folk-rock productions. Comprised of Vienna natives Silvia Rider (vocals) and Ben Bohm (guitar, background vocals), the Sugarplum Fairies draw influence from French cultural icons such as Françoise Hardy, Anna Karina, and Jean-Luc Godard, as well as the Velvet Underground, John Lennon, and Lee Hazlewood. Frequently mentioned as a point of...
Full Bio
Country International Records, Sugarplum Fairies
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Customer Ratings