Music For Cougars review by Sugar Ray

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  • Released: Jul 21, 2009
  • Sound: 5
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 4.7 (25 votes)
Sugar Ray: Music For Cougars
2

Sound — 5
Its been over a decade since Sugar Ray first defined summer soundtracks with easy-going songs such as Fly, Someday, and Every Morning, and its safe to say that never again will they enjoy such prominence. While some bands or artists would take a moment to re-evaluate their careers and perhaps decided this is the time call it quits or totally redefine themselves, not so with Sugar Ray. Mark McGrath and company are obviously quite comfortable with their identities, not so much just recognizing their place in music but totally embracing it with open arms and running with it. Like their fans, Sugar Ray's music is starting to show clear signs of age, hence the album's rather lame title, which in truth really sums it all up - Music for Cougars. Musically, Sugar Ray has stayed true to form over the years, churning out one radio friendly song after another, thanks in large part to the persistence of every original member. Spearheaded by vocalist Mark McGrath (perhaps now better known or more recognizable for his TV work with networks like VH1 and even hosting such shows as Extra), the band, including DJ Homicide and guitarist Rodney Sheppard, returns to their lazy, laid-back grooves and feel-good style. Songs like Girls Were Made to Love, Boardwalk, and Love 101, seem to be readymade tunes for movie soundtracks and commercials, conjuring dreams of kicking back with a beer on white-sand beaches. While the album is dominated by a relaxed, easy-going feel (so much so that the songs begin to run together for lack of uniqueness), there are departures from this, particularly found in what I found to be the better songs on the album. The catchy, guitar driven Going Nowhere and pop-rock gem Rainbow sound leftover from 2001's self-titled album, an altogether heavier, more rock-oriented effort. The strangest (and frankly confusing) parts of the album, however, come when Sugar Ray opts to try and capitalize on current electro/pop/dance sounds. With electronic drums, loud synthesizers, and a heavily Auto Tuned voice, Closer sounds like it would be much more comfortable on a Timbaland or Katy Perry album while Last Days sounds like something ripped off of Metro Station or hellogoodbye. Simply put, these songs just don't fit.

Lyrics — 5
Similar to the archetypal musical style, the singing and lyricism on the album stays true to the tried-and-true examples set by Sugar Ray back in the 90's. The lyrics are very simple fare, sticking primarily to tried-and-true messages of love, memories, and happiness, while Mark McGrath's raspy vocals convey a sense of pure fun and relaxation. There's no urgency to the singing, but then again there's no urgent message to deliver. The entire album is about kicking back, having a good time, and remembering the past. McGrath's carefree, gentle swagger was staple of 90's pop rock, so it's a shame when they opt to follow in the footsteps of T-Pain and lean heavily on Auto Tune for effect. The results are disastrous, becoming the most sour moments on the record.

Overall Impression — 5
No, Music for Cougars won't make any best of the year lists. It's nothing new, it's nothing cutting edge, and it's nothing trendy. But that's precisely where it succeeds it doesn't try to be (or frankly even pretend to be) anything that it's not. It's simple; it's classic; it's just standard Sugar Ray. Sure, the band waded into the shallows of newer territories (dance rock), but clearly the water was cold, and they went right back to the classic mold. It's not a great album by any stretch of the imagination, and, to be honest, it isn't really even good. Nothing on Music for Cougars will make your jaw drop, but that works for Sugar Ray. They aren't here to win over a new generation of fans or push the limits of their musical abilities, instead opting to work very comfortably within their means. In the most pure sense possible, they seem to have accepted they're past their prime, but they're still loving every minute of it. If nothing else, they're just happy making the music that they love.

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Craigadams93
    I just saw them, and they performed a couple of these songs live, and I actaully enjoyed them. I don't like the genre really at all, but it was pretty good stuff.
    kobi_galon
    I liked the album. Surely it's not something that "will make your jaw drop", as the reviewer said. But it's really Sugar Ray , much more than their previous album - and that was their intention. Maybe I'm not the best person to give an opinion about it (for what I'll mention now), but as a Sugar Ray fan - I had all my teenage years listening to their best songs -, I don't think this new record is bad. On the opposite, this is the kind of music their fans like, that really pleases them and the band itself. It doesn't matter what the others think. This is something I call identity , something that lacks to many many bands over there (as the reviewer also remarks), bands that just try to adapt to the 'current trend' in order to remain 'on the top'. It's due to this that I keep admiring Sugar Ray. And I'm quite sure that everyone who likes their 99/2001 stuff will enjoy Music For Cougars .
    ytse Jammer
    Meh. Sounds like an average album, don't think I'm gonna rush to grab a copy any time soon.
    SeattleJEM7
    EVERYBODY should ride the cougar experience. it's a story that you'll remember for the rest of your life!
    miketheman401
    radio friendly? the reviewer must have never heard the "floored" album. fly was the only radio friendly tune on it haha
    DirkLance
    miketheman401 wrote: radio friendly? the reviewer must have never heard the "floored" album. fly was the only radio friendly tune on it haha
    Good point, they used to be more heavy too, when I first heard music from Floored it cracked me up that they used to be like that, it was awesome. But yeah, they didn't become well known until fly came out, and every morning and someday really put them on the radio. They really seem to me as a band that adapted to the sound that was most successful for them, but then again, there are so many early 90s bands that got softer or poppier as they themselves got older. Anyway, my friend got this album, and I'll borrow it, but I'm not expecting much. I heard Rivers Cuomo helped write a song on this album and i think i heard he sang a part too. As a Weezer fan that is pretty cool, and figured i'd mention since it isn't in the review.
    Robby3_16
    Saying that "Fly", "Every Morning" and the like are true to form for Sugar Ray is a terrible insult to their first two albums (while maybe not being so to the band). Lemonade and Brownies and Floored were both fantastic Punk/Post Grunge albums, and "Fly" really killed a good thing. And yet I still like Fly because it's what got me to buy the album in the first place. I was literally floored (pardon the pun) by how good the rest of the "Floored" was, and it remains one of my favorite overall albums to this day.