After the departure of six-year guitarist/vocalist, Steven Schayer (The Chills), The Black Watch’s mainstay, John Andrew Fredrick went into a studio with drummer Luke Adams to make an album almost entirely by himself.
Sugarplum Fairy, Sugarplum Fairy is so memorably melodic, yet enthusiastically noisy. Buried beneath Fredrick’s brilliant pop stories rests an undercurrent of distortion, just that extra bite necessary to perfectly accentuate his mild-mannered sneer. Swirling in ’80s dream pop and ’90s shoegaze, the songs unfold lyrical narratives of discontent, frustration and failure from a voice wise enough to accept the consistent pain of living. It’s a masterpiece of emotive songwriting free of sappy clichés and naïve pessimism.
The Black Watch have been around for over a quarter of a century and, health permitting, will probably continue for another twenty-five years. Whether they ever emerge from their cult status is inconsequential. What matters is that they are here, and our lives are richer for it.