By the time David Kilgour released his solo debut in 1991, his band, the Clean, had already enjoyed a fruitful career in their home country of New Zealand, broken up and later reformed due to their newfound cult status in North America. Kilgour's follow-up LP, Sugar Mouth, reflected this transitional period, finding Kilgour straddling the line between the 1980s jangly college rock scene that birthed his band and the then-current 1990s slacker indie rock scene that he helped influence.
Released in North America for the first time, Flying Nun is now reissuing Sugar Mouth, tacking on two unreleased tracks from the original recording sessions, along with demo versions of eight of the album's 12 songs. Despite Kilgour's aesthetic conversion, Sugar Mouth stands to be not only one Kilgour's strongest releases but also one of the best indie rock albums to come out of the New Zealand music scene. Tracks like "No No No" and "Fallaway" are perky, poppy and anthemic, driven by Kilgour's full-bodied acoustic strumming, while "Beached" and "Crazy" find influences from groups that the Clean had originally influenced (Superchunk and Yo La Tengo, respectively). Moody tracks like "Nail in My Foot" and "Never End," meanwhile, show the singer's newfound growth.
The album's two outtakes ("Winter" and "Look at It (El Speedo)") are nearly essential, and while the demos are less so, Flying Nun's reissue of Sugar Mouth is a nonetheless a long-overdue addition to any serious indie rock fan's collection. (Flying Nun)