“Oooh, that’s a bit like Supersonic”.
My first vocalised thoughts on Moon Sugar’s single, released on Valentine’s Day of this year, were very clear, (and also not entirely accurate).
For the usual dribble regarding the artwork, it’s pretty top. It ticks all the boxes – nice, relatively simple and distinct. I don’t know whether some poor soul went all the way up to the moon to take this cover picture, but there is one key thing that they’ve missed out. The moon is fairly evident, presumably referencing the band’s name, but there is no trace of sugar here. Shame really.
So, who are Moon Sugar? I first thought they were a Beatles’ lyric, you know, like The Mojo Filters or something like that, (this is possible, I mean I’m not that well-versed in the discography of The Beatles). But they’re actually a gradually developed outfit consisting of five lads from Birmingham, who used to operate with a treacherous trio consisting only of vocals, guitar and keys. New, improved, and with an updated recipe, Moon Sugar’s current five-piece outfit is composed of (and I’m not showing any favouritism, this is just the format on their lovely website), Dave Cross, Jon Williams (no, not that one), Adee Shaw, Chris Maiden and Ellis Haden-Grant, on keys, guitar, vocals, bass and drums respectively. Additional points are earned for Jon’s combination of a grandad-collar, a flat-cap and facial hair, a combo which I have been trying to pioneer for some time now.
Right, so the actual tune, ‘I Wanna Feel’: Aside from the opening drums making me momentarily believe I’d been hit by a car and transported back to the nineties in a Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes kind of scenario, the use of keys as an instrument of prominence, rather than being relegated to a mere afterthought, is a refreshing change, grabbing and holding your attention. In a role reversal of sorts, the guitar offers the odd complimentary little fill outside of the inoffensive solo, filling out the sound rather than serving to mix and mess the well-suited balance of instruments.
Unlike their other tracks that I’ve listened to, the wonderfully solemn yet punchy ‘I Know What Is Real’ and the comparatively aggressive ‘Justify’, ‘I Wanna Feel’ finds a happy, well-suited medium between the two. With its simple structure and persistent, anthemic beat, the song offers an audible reiteration of older British rock, (I mean the nineties, so I’m having to be careful what I define as ‘old’), the tune develops into a bit of a banger once you get into it. The restrained and fitting guitar and backing vocals all combine to create a driven rhythm which aptly suits the sinister and brooding chords.
These features all add up, creating a sound which seems unrestricted by convention; there’s no need for constant guitar solos or huge, grand changes to the rhythm of the song. Images of the song playing in stadiums bounced around my mind as I listened for the second time. The mood of the song also develops nicely, from a pounding, determined open to an almost optimistic ending with the decent solo.
Admittedly, to say the tune was anything ground-breaking or innovative would be untrue, but this certainly isn’t to the song or the band’s detriment. I pictured the tune as a reimagining of your favourite bangers from your Britpop heroes, a case of blowing off the dust and bringing proper indie-rock back to prominence, rather than taking unhindered inspiration from said heroes: Not every new tune has to experiment with some niche sub-genre and a brand-new instrument, and by focusing on establishing their sound, Moon Sugar are in the process of creating an accessible and welcoming catalogue suited to their audience. Excellent job lads.
If you’d like to catch Moon Sugar, and potentially ask them for something to put in your tea, you can find them on a load of previously-linked social platforms, even on Instagram. Keep an eye out for their upcoming events, and get seeing a band who deliver consistently solid live performances.