Life's Too Good is the debut studio album by Icelandic alternative rock group the Sugarcubes. It was released April 25, 1988[3] by One Little Indian in the UK and Europe and in May 1988 by Elektra Records in the US. The album was an unexpected success and brought international attention for the band, especially to lead singer Björk, who would launch a successful solo career in 1993.

Life's Too Good
Studio album by
Released25 April 1988
The Sugarcubes chronology
Life's Too Good
Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!
Singles from Life's Too Good
  1. "Birthday"
    Released: August 1987
  2. "Coldsweat"
    Released: January 1988
  3. "Deus"
    Released: April 1988
  4. "Birthday (The Christmas Mix)"
    Released: August 1988
  5. "Motorcrash"
    Released: November 1988

Consisting of veterans of Reykjavík's early 1980s rock culture, the band took elements of the post-punk sound that characterised the scene, intending to create a humorous take on pop music's optimism, which is reflected in the album's title. Despite never having intended to be taken seriously, and because of the success of their debut and their contractual obligations, the Sugarcubes went on to release two further studio albums.

Release edit

The Sugarcubes in 1988

The lead single "Birthday" was released on Derek Birkett's One Little Indian Records in August 1987.[4] After influential magazine NME declared it "Single of the Week", the Sugarcubes, especially lead singer Björk, unexpectedly got the attention of the British music press.[4] Across the following months, the band reluctantly appeared on the covers of the United Kingdom's most prominent pop magazines[4] and experienced "massive hype" which generated a wave of interest from the press and the public.[5] Despite offers by major labels like Warner Bros. and PolyGram, none of these labels were willing to give the Sugarcubes complete creative control, so the band decided to record the album themselves and release it on One Little Indian.[6] Life's Too Good was finally released in April 1988.[7] "Coldsweat" and "Deus" were issued as singles prior to the album's release in January and April 1988 respectively, while the Jesus and Mary Chain's remix of "Birthday" (subtitled the "Christmas Mix") was released as a single in August 1988. "Motorcrash" followed as the album's final single in November 1988.

While recording Life's Too Good, the Sugarcubes had befriended Howard Thompson, who worked in Elektra Records' A&R division; he orchestrated a licensing deal and the album was released in the United States.[7][8] "Birthday" proved to be very successful on American college radio, before crossing over to mainstream radio.[8] To the band's frustration, the American media also focused on Björk.[8] At the end of 1988, the Sugarcubes undertook an American tour, which evolved into an international tour catapulted by the album's growing sales.[9]

Paul White of Me Company designed the artwork for Life's Too Good.[10] The figures depicted in the artwork are derivations of a signature he had which consisted of a character "made up of just a face, legs and a [penis]."[10] White stuck to using flat-color backgrounds; this discipline was born out of the need to keep printing costs as low as possible, and had previously been followed for the sleeve designs of the "Birthday" and "Coldsweat" singles.[10] The album was issued in various color schemes, including green, yellow, blue and pink.[10]

Critical reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [11]
The Line of Best Fit9/10[12]
Los Angeles Times    [13]
Record Collector     [15]
Record Mirror4/5[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [17]
Spin     [18]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[19]
The Village VoiceB−[20]

Life's Too Good was released to largely positive reviews,[7] receiving acclaim from the British and American press.[21] In his review for NME, Steven Wells gave the album an unconventional score of fifty out of ten, awarding ten points each for "cheekiness", "naughtiness", "sexiness", "silliness" and "scariness".[14] Nancy Culp of Record Mirror said that while the Sugarcubes' music is not particularly innovative, "their approach is fresh and their energy indisputable."[16] Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn commented that "Life's Too Good has the feel of an impact album: one of those rare debuts—like the first X or Talking Heads albums—that not only influence the creative underground but stretch the overall boundaries of rock."[13] John Dougan praised Björk's vocals and the album's "strong" songs in a retrospective review for AllMusic, and considered that the album "lived up to all the advance hype."[11]

Less impressed was Robert Christgau from The Village Voice, who wrote that the band's "sense of mischief isn't just playful—it's experimental and a little wicked. It's also so imperfectly realized that you have to infer it out from underneath their breathy swoops, willful shifts and starts, and translated lyrics—so imperfectly realized that most of their fans, critics included, barely notice it."[20]

Legacy edit

Life's Too Good is credited as the first Icelandic album "of its breed" to have a worldwide impact.[7] In 2014, Treble wrote that the album "[generated] a larger interest towards the country’s popular and alternative music scenes alike."[22] The album is considered a definite influence on all subsequent Icelandic popular music, and on international acts such as Savages and Florence and the Machine.[22] Since its release, Life's Too Good has generated a dedicated following, and is nowadays cited as an important cult classic.[23] The album helped in regarding the Sugarcubes as "the biggest rock band to emerge from Iceland."[21] "Coldsweat" was covered by the industrial rock band Diatribe on the 1993 album Shut Up Kitty: A Cyber-Based Covers Compilation.

Accolades edit

Accolades for Life's Too Good
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Best France Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1988 10
Christophe Brault Top 20 Albums by Year 1964–2004[citation needed] 2006 15
Gilles Verlant 300+ Best Albums in the History of Rock[citation needed] 2013 *
Musik Express/Sounds Germany Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1988 13
RoRoRo Rock-Lexicon Most Recommended Albums[citation needed] 2003 *
OOR Netherlands Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1988 24
Rock de Lux Spain 19
Melody Maker United Kingdom 2
NME 13
Q *
Sounds 11
Robert Dimery United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[24] 2005 *
KCPR Top 100 Records from the 80s[citation needed] 2002 35
Treble The Best Albums of the 80s, by Year[citation needed] 2006 5
The Village Voice Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1988 35
(*) designates lists that are unordered.

Track listing edit

All tracks are written by the Sugarcubes

Life's Too Good track listing
4."Delicious Demon"2:43
7."Blue Eyed Pop"2:38
9."Sick for Toys"3:15
10."F***ing in Rhythm & Sorrow"3:14
11."Take Some Petrol Darling" (hidden track)1:27
Total length:33:05
Life's Too Good  – US CD bonus tracks
13."I Want..."2:55
14."Dragon" (Icelandic)3:07
15."Cat" (Icelandic)2:56
16."Coldsweat" (Remix)3:42
17."Deus" (Remix)6:03
Total length:54:52

Personnel edit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Life's Too Good.[1]

The Sugarcubes

Additional personnel

Charts edit

Chart performance for Life's Too Good
Chart (1988) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[25] 64
UK Albums Chart[26] 14
UK Indie Albums Chart[27] 1
US Billboard 200[28] 54

Sales edit

Sales for Life's Too Good
Region Sales
United States 500,000[29]
Worldwide 1,000,000[29]

References edit

  1. ^ a b The Sugarcubes (1988). Life's Too Good (Media notes). One Little Indian Records.
  2. ^ Mackay, Emily (29 October 2013). "25 Years On: Life's Too Good By The Sugarcubes". The Quietus. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  3. ^ Dalton, David, ed. (23 April 1988). "Advertisement" (PDF). Music Week. London, England, U.K.: Spotlight Publications, Ltd.: 3. ISSN 0265-1548. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2024. Released 25th April
  4. ^ a b c Pytlik, 2003. p.38
  5. ^ Pytlik, 2003. p.39
  6. ^ Pytlik, 2003. p.40
  7. ^ a b c d Pytlik, 2003. p.41
  8. ^ a b c Pytlik, 2003. p.42
  9. ^ Pytlik, 2003. p.44
  10. ^ a b c d Bucher, Stefan (1 February 2006). All Access: The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers. Rockport Publishers. pp. 52–53. ISBN 1592532772.
  11. ^ a b Dougan, John. "Life's Too Good – The Sugarcubes". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2004.
  12. ^ Scott, Hayley (17 August 2015). "The strange genius of The Sugarcubes' Life's Too Good, 27 years on". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  13. ^ a b Hilburn, Robert (12 June 1988). "Sugarcubes' Demons, Doubts and Humor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  14. ^ a b Wells, Steven (30 April 1988). "Life's Sweet Riches". NME. p. 34.
  15. ^ Atkins, Jamie (October 2015). "Life's Too Good | The Sugarcubes". Record Collector. No. 445. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  16. ^ a b Culp, Nancy (30 April 1988). "The Sugarcubes: Life's Too Good". Record Mirror. p. 34.
  17. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "The Sugarcubes". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 791. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  18. ^ Reilly, Phoebe (June 2007). "Discography: Björk". Spin. Vol. 23, no. 6. p. 74. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  19. ^ Press, Joy (1995). "Sugarcubes". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 381–382. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  20. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (29 November 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide: Turkey Shoot". The Village Voice. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Björk Biography". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  22. ^ a b Blyweiss, Adam; Bossenger, Alex; Grotepas, Nicole; Speranza, Greg; Terich, Jeff (5 June 2014). "10 Essential Iceland albums". Treble. Treble Media. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  23. ^ Butler, Will (9 September 2015). "From Fugazi to Madvillain: the Best Cult Albums of All Time". Gigwise. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  24. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  25. ^ "Chartifacts – Week Ending 1 March 1992 Issue No.109 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 109)". ARIA. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  26. ^ "Official Charts > Sugarcubes". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  27. ^ "Indie Hits "S"". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 20 July 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  28. ^ "The Sugarcubes - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  29. ^ a b Tilli, Robert (8 February 1992). "Marketing The Music - Sugarcubes" (PDF). Music & Media. p. 21. Retrieved 17 February 2023.

External links edit