100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #89 Sugar – Tilted

Released: 1993

If the messy and protracted dissolution of Hüsker Dü didn’t mean that it hurt any less when it finally happened, it was also impossible at the time to anticipate what it’s legacy would be.

Equally, the notion of solo careers for anyone involved with those acts who’d pioneered an American alternative music scene one van at a time seemed ridiculous – striking out on your own was for members of the Jackson Five. Bob Mould’s intransigence was hardly a secret however, so it was somehow fitting that he’d eschew the received wisdom in every sense, his post-Dü album Black Sheets of Rain an ugly listen totally without compromise.

Mould then formed Sugar as much it seemed to get away from himself as anything else. Back in a power trio setting but this time without the songwriting tension once shared with Grant Hart, against the all-pervasive backdrop of grunge, their debut collection of melodic rock Copper Blue found him rejecting the aesthetics of the moment, serving up a cleaner, less damaged sound to greater purpose.

Copper Blue was the most commercially successful work Mould would ever write, but paradoxically the unfamiliar pressure of being a commodity in demand and the onset of a relationship breakdown drove him to the harder, uncompromising sound of what he described as it’s “Evil twin”, Beaster. A six track EP released only a few months later, Tilted was it’s centrepiece, a blast of scathing punk that faithfully recreated the emotional sarcophagus of decaying love into noise, the hornet’s nest of a guitar solo dangerous and rasping. Outsiderdom beckoned again, to be embraced this time forever.

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