The Fastbacks – Zücker

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

As far as I can remember, I only had one real chance to see the Fastbacks live and that was in the early ‘90s in Washington, D.C. I didn’t see them and now it’s too late. How many times has that happened to me? Lots. Have I learned my lesson? No. It still happens.

What I Think of This Album

This is the part where I inform you that zücker is German for sugar, and tell you how it is an appropriate title for this energetic pop-punk masterpiece. Joined by Rusty Willoughby of Flop on drums (though Willoughby plays the guitar in Flop), the Fastbacks power their way through thirteen instant classics and one Bee Gees cover on this Sub Pop release. Do I need to check out ‘60s Bee Gees? Fuck me.

Kurt Bloch is all over the place on this album, inserting his ‘70s hard rock influenced leads into his melodic tunes, which ease off the punk somewhat (but not completely) this time around but are nonetheless so forceful and speedy that you barely notice the softer edge. Presumably he plays the keyboards that are more than a little present, though there is no credit in the liner notes. Kim Warnick and Lulu Gargiulo turn in their best vocal performances to date, notably on spooky ballad “When I’m Old” and girl-group adjacent number “They Don’t Care,” which also features some of my favorite lead guitar lines on this album. Also of note is spiky instrumental “Bill Collector,” on which Bloch shows off his moves.

PNW mainstay Conrad Uno co-engineered the album, which was only the third full-length studio release for the band (the first coming in 1987), even though they formed in the late ’70s. It was also their first studio album for Sub Pop.

The Best Thing About This Album

Bloch’s songwriting and guitar playing.

Release Date

January, 1993

The Cover Art

I like the colors. The rest isn’t terrible, and I sort of appreciate the weirdness of it – if I am being honest, it is a memorable image, so maybe it did its job? – but it is far from a favorite.

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