It’s been a year since the release of electronic artist Robin Schulz’s debut album, Prayer: Half proper album and half remix collection, it showed off his style of combining EDM with natural instruments, though the split focus between remixes and original tracks was off-putting. The follow-up album Sugar fixes this problem, though at the same time it leaves another major issue untouched.
Sugar features no remixes this time around. It makes for a shorter package, but the removal of the direct remixes means it feels natural, which couldn’t be said about Prayer. It still follows a similar formula though: Songs are all dominated by one main instrument, usually piano or guitar, with a deep house backing beat and a guest vocalist. This mostly becomes an issue due to the similarities between all of the songs. The beats are all in a similar deep house style that rarely varies across the tracks, with their main defining features being the instrument of choice.
There are only a few songs on Sugar that make the best of this situation: First track and single Headlights makes the best use of the formula, with the scratch of a hand sliding along the guitar strings adding some flavour to the song, while guest vocalist Ilsey’s rougher tone fits the mood of the song perfectly. Pride’s use of piano in the verses and fiddle in the chorus achieves a similar effect; the fiddle in particular gives a nice, bouncy sound to the chorus that feels unique on the album. The cover of Eagle-Eye Cherry’s Save Tonight, however, feels especially out of place on Sugar, attempting to fit with the theme of the album but failing thanks to its insistence of sticking to the original song’s melodies and structure. There’s little about it that’s innovative, beyond changing a pop rock song into a deep house one.
Sugar is the type of EDM album with a strict style that it sticks to, leaving little room for changes between songs to keep it interesting. While there are a few unique songs, they mostly still find themselves failing to stick out from between the less attention grabbing moments that dominate the album. The lack of remixes was a nice move, but in the end it wasn’t enough to make Schulz’s second album a stronger one.