Dead Confederate’s debut, Wreckingball, was awash in ‘90s distortion, recalling grunge but with a 21st century bent. For its sophomore release, Sugar, the dense fog of feedback has cleared a bit, uncovering compositional nuances that are sophisticated, and textures that prove this Georgia quartet has been holding its cards tight to the chest.
Beginning with the woozy opener, “In The Dark,” the band sprinkles pop nuances into this reverb-laden pyre, frontman Hardy Morris afire with a scarred intensity, singing “I don’t bite, I am frozen tight, I am the one, the one who kisses you goodnight.” “Run from the Gun” recalls Oasis over rusted guitar, and “Quiet Kid” bellows steam that hangs heavy in air. Through all, the submarine guitar of Walker Howle winds serpentine, lending the tracks a reverberating hum.
Despite Dead Confederate’s chested-haired maturity, Sugar struggles to maintain stamina on the erosive “Semi-Thought” and the hazy title-track. The band revs, but fails to propel itself forward here, and because of this, the album goes out with a flicker, in contrast to the wild sparks that ignite Sugar and burn brightly through its first half.
It seems like only yesterday at the quintet emerged from the ashes of The Redbelly Band to become Dead Confederate. Heavy touring has honed its playing, experience has elevated its songwriting, and Sugar feels like a culmination of these qualities; it is the best that Dead Confederate has produced, and it is a promise for brighter times ahead.
Sugar is out August 24 on TAO/Old Flame.