Sugar Coated Pills of Wisdom
PaperCup Music; 2014
Review by Emilio Herce
The songs on BLUFFING’s Sugar Coated Pills of Wisdom seem to disappear before they leave a dent, but you wake up with bite marks, and know that you’ve been infected. This is ostensibly what the band, consisting of the two core songwriters Olivia Drusin and J Boxer (on guitar and drums respectively, they share vocal duties pretty evenly), is aiming for, but it’s only with repeat listens (not a major feat, considering that the entire thing clocks in at under 18 minutes) that you’ll understand why Sugar Coated is so virulent. The ten songs on the EP are short but maximalist. They never quite cross over into cagey claustrophobia, but live on that precipice, each one a glorious interplay of trim guitar and delirious vocal harmonies on top of machine gun ride patterns and sharp snare patter. The songs are pithy and spry, a myriad of ebbs and accents which I’d compare to leaves in a gust, swirling and eddying upwards, except for moments, no more than a second or so, which are left relatively empty for the notes to fall where they may before they’re swept up again in a fury.
My favorite songs on the album come towards the end, conversely the love song “Salad,” (“Make me a salad of all your favorite vegetables around / I’ll make you dinner so you know that my love is true,” a closer approximation of what love is than 99% of songs that make the attempt) and “O.B.E,” which opens with the heartbreaker “One day I won’t even know you anymore,” the only true thing that can be said about most relationships. Sugar coated these pills are not, though there’s also no histrionic bent, no foray into disillusionment and disappointment, which along with the tempo and furiousness at which these musicians play, is sometimes a marker of this usually angst-ridden genre. Instead the album speaks plainly to the pangs of coming “adulthood,” and that entire, mostly nebulous period. This isn’t to say that the album isn’t fun, at times mindlessly so. The slinky, sharp turns on “Circles,” make the song almost a skateboard trick, and “Tonka Toy” perfectly captures a child-like, single-minded fascination, if with a more mature retrospect.
BLUFFING wears its influences on its sleeve, and this initially worried me. It is obvious Sugar Coated Pills of Wisdom is an attempt to take the “pop song” formula and re-purpose it. These fears were unfounded. This is a band successfully playing with form, “playing” being the operative term. Though fully aware of what they’re doing, they never intellectualize the genre, and the songs remain loose and enjoyable. I can describe the feeling of the record akin to that third cup of coffee, a certain, semi-elated buzzing of the blood for no reason whatever, but certainly not a placebo effect.