Somethings happen, somethings don't. An all-female power duo like this don't come often, maybe once in a pink moon, before becoming a part of historical archiving in Rock In The Fine City. They were school girls waxing lyrical proses about relationships and lovelorn school chapters ala Teenage Textbook, a little tragic and a little wiser but they were also the very femme fatales with guitars and attitudes that is of course charismatic in their special ways. Miasma of newfound power from two Indigo Girls and bra-burning slipped into Singaporean shores and took rocking to a higher strata of Mussolini headkick. Sugarflies originally started as an outfit of three in 1994, but since then June Koh (vocals and guitars) and Stella Tan (also vocals and guitars) stuck as the original poster girls. On a sidenote, the two girls are real babe materials, having witnessed them performing and taking my breath away at calibrated palpitations. For recording purposes, they had aid and abetting from drummers and bassists which included big names like Patrick Chng, Ray Aziz, Evan Tan and Farizwan. Sugarflies to me is like a whiff of fresh air from a rather musty music scene full of self-congratulatory in-breds. They make unique and beautiful music that separates them from the copycat masses and released one of the best indie album in 1998, titled "And That's Why".
On this release, they play irresistibly charming numbers that make one reminisces the good old days (especially school days), when all is ingenuous, kinder and sincere. They colour old photographs in sepia with a generous dosage of wistful dream-mongering, from the very strings that conjure magic and with their hearts that speak passion. I can close my eyes and feel the emotive tremors in the voices which is rich, matured and wordly, yet having a subtle school girl idealism. The vocals serenade in low key, hitting the range and feel of Natalie Merchant, and even Karen Carpenter at the lowest. Musically, the girls weave wonderful melodies with their trusty guitars that make dream pop in its delivery with a garage college rock background. Think of the melodic jangles of Catatonia, meets the shimmering soundscape of Lush with a heart for nostalgic Singaporean beat and you're almost there.
The album begins with "Sunday Night", which is a wonderful starter with its calm, reflective and dreamy quality, and the guitar melodies feel like stardust. The vocalist heaves gentle sighs, a very poetic and elegant way to address regrets and loneliness. "What About", one of the best track on the album is a 70s-pop inspired oldies track that gives the same warm nostalgia that makes the knees go weak, like Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou", or a Carpenters number, which easily depicts the vesperine of our lovely island in the past. "Conversation" all the way to "School Bus Song" are more upbeat numbers that evokes Blondie-spirited rocking, which completes the indie soundpicture that the band draws. In between are many stand-out tracks that have made its way to compilations and other forms of media, like "Yoshiki", "Circle Song" (which some people see as a parallel dimension to Humpback Oak’s "Circling Square"), "Telegenic Babe" and "Radiostar"
Sugarflies never fail to deliver the sweets, but they didn't live long enough round the turn of the millenium and died like the sweet little thing is the fly. The passing of time is sad, because it reminds you that your memories are just an unreal figment of the past, and nothing will ever be as good as the past. You can address regrets like June Koh all over again, haunted by nostalgia but some day some time you may choose to let go and transcend past your Zahir out of samsara into a blazing future ahead. But if you are like me, still tied down by the memories of affectionate rocking from The Oddfellows, Humpback Oak and Sugarflies alike, then hang on and dream on. I have a balm from Edgar Allan Poe... Is all that we see or seem...But a dream within a dream?