Author: Lord Audiopile
Compared to Here Come the Cars, Sugar Mouth is a more immediately exuberant record, less restrained in production and delivery, a peppy, energetic blast right from the start thanks to the rushed “No No No,” and another reason why Kilgour can make a claim as being one of New Zealand’s best musical treasures. With Noel Ward again providing bass and other performers helping out throughout (including backing vocals and on “Listen to the Rain” lead vocals from Jane Kemp), Kilgour serves up a simply gorgeous set of engaging guitar pop songs that manage to be sunny and sighing all at once. Kilgour’s vocal resemblance to his musical contemporaries (and fellow Dylan appreciators), Robert Forster and Robyn Hitchcock, has never been stronger; as with them, Kilgour’s tone is high, a touch reedy but never anything less than impassioned and attractive. Some songs capture some of the gauzier feeling of Here Come the Cars thanks to the mixing and soft motorik chug (“Filter” in particular). “Crazy,” meanwhile, bears hints of Kilgour’s time in Snapper, loud and brash but similarly indebted to a refracted Krautrock drive. Others have an air that can only be described as clear and cool — not cold, but there’s something about the way the acoustic guitars and piano sound on “Beached,” Kilgour’s singing coming down through echo, or the concluding flow of “Never End” that suggests blue skies, deep oceans, and high peaks. Whether it’s the acoustic-based strum and shimmer of “Fallaway,” an anthem that never has to strain or sound oppressively big even in the slightest or the heart-tugging semi-waltzes of “Nail in My Foot” or “Recollection,” Sugar Mouth is just plain fantastic, full stop.