Sound — 8
"Sugar" delivers achingly trendy house music anthems sung by an eclectic mix of guest singers and wrapped up in high-quality production from Robin Schulz - the DJ/producer of the moment. "Eclectic" is definitely the word for an album that credits 13 vocalists across 15 tracks ranging from angel voiced Francesco Yates to the gravelly Ilsey Juber. This diversity of style means the listener doesn't know what to expect from one track to the next, keeping "Sugar" fresh and playing on your speakers from start to finish. To anchor these changing voices, Schulz' backing track keeps it simple and consistent with guitar, synthy piano and drum machine. His use of guitar to establish a killer beat has become a hallmark of his style and the resulting songs sound great cranked up in a club or strummed unplugged.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrics on "Sugar" slip off the tongue with hooky ease and this brazen success seeking song writing rewards tunes "Love Me Loud" and "Save Tonight" with the ability to get fans singing along half way through their first listen. However, when every song covers the same territory - love and romantic relationships under stress - it's a waste for a producer so experimental with his choice of singers to offer them such little scope in themes to express their talents.
Still, the singers wring every drip of romantic angst going with production that ebbs and flows as each vocalist takes stage. Aleesia's voice in "Love Me Loud" sounds intimately spoken into the listener's ear capturing her every nuance, while "This Is Your Life" drenches its session vocalist in reverb to help her gorgeous highs soar even higher.
Overall Impression — 7
Record labels, radio stations and fans alike are insatiable for house music and Schulz delivers a text book trendy album that has satisfied popular craving evidenced by the success of its singles Headlights, "Show Me Love" and especially "Sugar." Despite this success, however, "Sugar" is an album that toes the line and, by doing so, sacrifices pushing the boundaries of its genre. The result is an album that does everything you would expect it to really well, but fails to surprise enough. If you consider this album as the sum of its awesomely talented, hugely varied parts, then this is disappointing. Still, what you get are 15 tracks that fizz out the speakers and will command you to dance, sing and feel pretty awesome about life, so I imagine most listeners won't care about that.