Friday, May 23, 2008

Underrated or Appreciated Albums: Regretfully Yours

I thought that the Desert Island Discs post was so much fun (I'll certainly have more in the coming weeks) that I came up with other specially-themed posts to do. This one, Underrated or Appreciated, deals with albums that I like a lot but am surprised and a little disappointed that they didn't get more attention/praise. I've found this trend happening often enough that it deserves its own kind of post. Basically, I'm going to do two things in this kind of post: 1) praise the album I like, and 2) complain that more people don't see things my way.

First up in this set of posts is one that I think is one of the most underrated albums of the 90s: Superdrag's debut album Regretfully Yours. This album came out in 1996 at the height of the alterna-craze of the 90s. "Sucked Out" was the main buzzworthy song, and MTV played the video for a little while. The rest of the CD, however, was overlooked for some reason. I mean, I like "Sucked Out" for sure (who can't appreciate screaming along with John Davis, "Who sucked out the FFFEEEEEEAALLLLIIINNNNGGGG?!?"), but most of the album has a really nice energy. Also, despite its occasionally depressing lyrics, the songs sound upbeat and so catchy. It's a fun album that combines the youth of innocence with the angst of adolescence. Maybe that's why I got into the record so much during college.

You have such a strong start with "Slot Machine," the driving one chord that moves into lines about unrequited love and trying for friendship. The song bleeds into another smooth rocker, "Phaser," that makes you want to dance and jump around. Another strong point is "Destination Ursa Major," a song that builds up enough energy to propel it to the stars. The second half of the album is great, although it is more hit or miss than the first half. "Whitey's Theme" has a playful feel, particularly since it includes a guitar solo that sounds like like a taunting song that everybody sang on the playground in elementary school. "N.A. Kicker" has such a sweet guitar line that it practically demands a head bob. The album's closer, "Rocket," finishes off the record with another bouncy, driving melody that promises you it won't go away. The only bothersome tracks on the record are "Truest Love" and "Nothing Good is Real." Both are worth skipping, but even if you take them away, you have eleven songs that make a nice, cohesive album that can meet you with as much optimism or pessimism as you are willing to bring. Either way, Regretfully Yours packs a punch and gets you to enjoy the ride.

Unfortunately, Superdrag were never really able to recapture the same amount of magic that they achieved on their first album. Subsequent records have good songs here and there, but they couldn't make an album that worked as well as a cohesive unit like Regretfully Yours. I'm really surprised that they didn't receive more attention or praise for this album, mostly because I think there were enough strong songs that they could have certainly been appreciated by a broader audience. "Sucked Out" was their biggest hit, but it didn't really create the lasting attention for them that carried over to other songs, sadly enough. They're certainly worth listening to, particularly if you have an affinity for 90s alternative.

Superdrag - Sucked Out
Superdrag - Destination Ursa Major

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