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Rock - Released July 26, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

Down to a duo of Mark McGrath and Rodney Sheppard, Sugar Ray rebrand themselves as a breezy pop group with Little Yachty. As its winking title suggests, Little Yachty is indebted to the cool, smooth sounds of Yacht Rock, that specific brand of '70s soft rock that's tied to the sea and sand. It's a long way from the punk-funk of Lemonade and Brownies, but not too far removed from Music for Cougars, the 2009 album released after McGrath's immersion in reality TV. During the decade that separates Music for Cougars and Little Yachty, McGrath continued to work the peculiar byways of stardom, appearing on The Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity Wife Swap, and Celebrity Big Brother, which means that even though time marched on, the singer didn't chase trends. Given this, it should come as no surprise that Little Yachty also feels weirdly frozen in time. While there is some slight production flair that ties the album to 2019 -- notably, it all bears an entirely too-crisp digital sheen -- the record could've come out roughly a decade earlier and nobody would've been the wiser. What does make Little Yachty notable is that this is the work of men who are comfortable in their middle age -- McGrath and Sheppard are all in on the soft rock vibe -- they not only resolutely refuse to crank their amplifiers, they wind up covering Rupert Holmes' singles-bar staple "Escape (The Piña Colada Song). Sugar Ray don't always replicate the sunny vibes of yacht rock; they spend a fair amount of time indulging in island rhythms and gently bouncing reggae beats, the kind of music that's perfect for a Saturday afternoon on a beach. These are executed skillfully but the highlights of the album come when Sugar Ray bend their own SoCal sound to the softer side of things ("Perfect Mornings," "Coconut Bay," "Trouble," "Make It Easy") and, especially, when they co-opt the outlaw vibes of Christopher Cross for the closing "California Gold," which is about as good a yacht rock pastiche as could be imagined. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released November 11, 2013 | Razor & Tie

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Pop - Released October 6, 2009 | RT Industries

Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath had proven himself on national television as a walking rock encyclopedia, in a 1998 episode of VH1's Rock and Roll Jeopardy. It was an impressive feat that could explain the divergent styles of Sugar Ray's 1999 album 14:59. Their third album showed an alarming overhaul in their approach, practically moving Sugar Ray into a new genre. 14:59 steered them from their metal shellac toward a calmer, melodious pastiche of songs. The band on 14:59 has versatility nailed down better than your grade-A wedding band: "Every Morning" bounces with the acoustic pop gentility of their 1997 hit "Fly," while "Falls Apart" and "Personal Space Invader" reflect influences from Synchronicity and Men Without Hats. 14:59 also favors the leaner, faster punk of Green Day in "Aim for Me." There's even a frighteningly faithful cover of Steve Miller's "Abracadabra." If there's one criticism of 14:59, it's that if you listen hard enough you'll be playing "sounds like..." for many songs. In that sense it's almost a parody; the inclusion of two comic songs entitled "New Direction" (one death metal, one circus tent) help that assessment. Finally, though, 14:59 has such catchiness and charm that it's a guilty pleasure of high order, and a bigger step than one might have expected from Sugar Ray. ~ Paul Pearson
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Pop - Released June 17, 2005 | RT Industries

Around the time that "Every Morning" proved Sugar Ray weren't a one-hit wonder in 1998 -- following the 1997 smash "Fly," it was suggested that, at the very least, they'd be a two-hit wonder -- it became clear that the way to listen to Sugar Ray would be a greatest-hits compilation. That suspicion increased as they piled up hit singles over the next few years -- "Falls Apart" and "Someday" in 1999/2000, "Answer the Phone" and "When It's Over" in 2001 -- and when the bottom finally fell out with 2003's In the Pursuit of Leisure, which failed to generate any big hit, it became clear that it wouldn't be long before that hits disc came along. And here it is: Greatest Hits, released in the middle of June 2005, just as the summer was getting under way. That's appropriate, because Sugar Ray's breezy party music is designed for the summer, as this 15-track disc proves -- not only is it the perfect soundtrack for lazy days at the beach, lead singer Mark McGrath incessantly mentions summer in his lyrics, which just sets the mood. That mood is occasionally broken by such remnants of the group's metallic beginnings as "Rhyme Stealer" and "RPM," which stand in uneasy contrast to the sunny, friendly sound that not only brought the group fame and fortune, but made them one of the prime guilty pleasures at the turn of the millennium. These songs are all the more jarring because the collection is not presented in chronological order -- a move that wouldn't have been a problem if the disc didn't dip back to those early stilted hard rock cuts, since "Mean Machine" really spoils the mood that "Every Morning" sets. But that's nitpicking, since it's a problem that can be solved by programming, fast forward, or play lists. What's really nice about Greatest Hits is that it collects those aforementioned great guilty pleasures in one place. The rest of the album isn't as good as those hits -- some of it is just pleasant filler, some of it is ham-fisted rock -- but it's largely entertaining pop, and it makes for a good hits collection. (The disc contains three unreleased songs: the nice "Shot of Laughter," which is yet another entry in McGrath's "endless summer" catalog; a cheerful reworking of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," which relates neatly to Sugar Ray's cataloging of '80s favorites on "Under the Sun"; and the punk metal of "Psychedelic Bee," whose title inadvertently brings to mind the neo-psychedelic classic by Mercury Rev, "Chasing a Bee.") ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released May 3, 2008 | RT Industries

Sugar Ray's major-label debut is a competent set of alternative funk/metal, though nothing on Lemonade & Brownies is particularly distinctive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released July 14, 2009 | RT Industries

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Pop - Released June 20, 1997 | RT Industries

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Rock - Released October 18, 2018 | RT Industries

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Pop - Released June 12, 2001 | RT Industries

By their fourth album, Sugar Ray had developed a real ease to their music. Starting with "Fly," they no longer tried so hard to rock -- they no longer tried to ape the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- and began relaxing into a sun-kissed, laid-back groove, the kind of music where even the fast numbers powered by distorted guitars don't necessarily sound heavy. This came to the forefront on 14:59, but it blossoms on that album's follow-up, Sugar Ray. Where 14:59 was a little self-conscious and jokey (culminating in a cover of Steve Miller's "Abracadabra"), Sugar Ray feels easy and natural, so it's easy to smile at the reference to Run-D.M.C.instead of cringing. And that'sthe key to the record -- it's relaxed, utterly without pretension, and often charmingly melodic. Sure, there are some cuts that fall flat, but this record is more consistent than any of their previous albums, thanks not only to a stronger set of material, but the fact that the band is gelling as a band, which makes even the missteps easier to listen to. Best of all, the band never runs from their past, adding another great summer single to their arsenal with "When It's Over" (easily the equal of "Fly" and "Every Morning"), while even sampling "Every Morning" on "Ours." All this doesn't make Sugar Ray seem new, but there's charm to their performances, which make the album seen fresh, all the same. For a supposed one-hit wonder, it's remarkable that they've released their best album four records into their career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released June 3, 2003 | RT Industries

Do you want proof that Sugar Ray are smarter, or at least savvier, than they seem? They not only abandoned funk-metal the second they had a hit with the breezy "Fly," they ran with their newfound success, turning into the sunny, good-time summertime band that American pop radio desperately needed in the bleak, self-absorbed aftermath of grunge. Thing was, they were much better as a pop band than a rock band; although they could occasionally hit a rocker out of the park, as they did on the punky power pop of "Answer the Phone," they felt more comfortable when they laid back and let the hooks speak for themselves, something they felt increasingly comfortable doing with each successive album, culminating in their first-rate 2001 eponymous record. That was a clean, straightforward pop album, working within the mainstream tradition and sounding surprisingly timeless in many ways. Its 2003 successor continues in the pop vein, but it tries to be a more contemporary version of that album, overloaded with modern drum beats and loops and processed guitars. Often, this is merely window-dressing on a good pop song, but sometimes it overwhelms the track if there are no hooks there -- as it does, ironically, on the album's first single, "Mr. Bartender (It's So Easy)." So, it's not as consistent as Sugar Ray, stumbling on occasion, but it does deliver some great guilty pleasures -- the opening "Chasin' You Around"; the sweet "Heaven"; the rocker "In Through the Doggie Door," which redeems its title; the excellent cover of "Is She Really Going Out With Him?," where vocalist Mark McGrath precisely mimics the tone, timbre, and phrasing of Joe Jackson; and, finally, "Blues From a Gun," where they appropriate a Jesus & Mary Chain title and come up with a song that's pretty much the polar opposite of the Mary Chain. It all adds up to another winning record by a band who has proven to be far more resilient than anybody could have guessed when "Fly" flew to the top of the charts in 1997. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released October 23, 2001 | Razor & Tie

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Rock - Released June 28, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rock - Released July 19, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rock - Released June 7, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Ambient/New Age - Released November 24, 2017 | Concord Music Group

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Pop - Released May 27, 2003 | RT Industries

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Pop - Released June 24, 2003 | Razor & Tie

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Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Razor & Tie