Album Review: Nic Cester- ‘Sugar Rush’
Right from the get-go, it’s obvious that Jet frontman Nic Cester wanted to differentiate his debut solo effort from the work of the internationally successful rock and roll outfit.
Things kick off with an exotic bang, as the title track provides soothing jungle rhythms and artful scatting set against a backdrop of soaring brass. There’s a pervading sense of unbound creativity, proving this is just the beginning of something special.
Eyes on the Horizon has all the markings of a man totally comfortable with his position in life. The candid, playful and reflective tones of plodding bass juxtapose Cester’s rough-edged vocals perfectly.
Hard Times presents a softer side to the musical man, his trademark cry tempered with a measured voice of reason. The simple, matter-of-fact phrasing of “Hard times are coming” is delivered with such raw emotion, like some succulent sashimi, that it’s impossible to not get roped into the mystique.
Not afraid to lose loose bounds, lead single Psichibello is a psychedelic romp through an electro field of flowers. Spacey guitar and dirty bass are met with slender and tender backing vocals, the instrumentation rising and falling like an ocean current in a torrentially delightful passage. As the name might suggest, Strange Dreams meanders along on a toxic tide, the sinister tone of the grungy guitar and slimy, seaweed-y synth breaking the part-time positive approach.
Nic Cester has made a record that smells not of a cash grab, but of blood, sweat and tears.
On Top of the World capitalises on this change in tone, the dour hum of the keyboard mixing with Cester and his backing vocalist’s sorrowful intonations. Far from being on top of the world, it feels very much like they’re witnessing the end of it. Clocking in at just over 90 seconds, it is a brief yet mesmerising affair.
Perhaps the biggest flaw in the post-Top of the World… world, is that it feels like it’s run out of surprises. This makes for songs that are technically proficient, but fail to leave much of an imprint after their runtime is up.
Thankfully, these tracks never diverge into the path of self-gratification, and after repeated listens, worm their way into your head, making for a deep, complex and rewarding package.
Feeling like a dark, steamy alley that appears in a procedural crime thriller, Little Things is a sassy, bopping number that uses its fractured drumbeats and cheeky keyboard to artful effect, handclaps raising the song to joyous heights. It feels like Cester really let loose for it, though it never feels overindulgent, just damn fun.
Walk On presents a subdued curtain call, a splash of acoustic guitar and slick bassline honeycombing with contemplative vocals. An airy flash of psychedelia harks back to what once was, before the song taps out with explosive grace.
It’s rare than an album is so relatable, but with Sugar Rush, Nic Cester has made a record that smells not of a cash grab, but of blood, sweat and tears. Feeling at once daringly different and comfortably familiar, the work is sure to provide you with the heavy dose of glucose you need to make it through the psychedelic summer sizzle.