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Album review: Sugar Ray's 'Music for Cougars'

July 20, 2009 |  5:25 pm

Cougars It's anyone's guess why this L.A. pop-rock act -- a huge commercial draw in the late '90s but one that hasn't released a new studio disc since 2003's comparatively soft-selling "In the Pursuit of Leisure" -- chose this moment of worldwide economic instability to stage a comeback: With a long line of barely distinguishable hits such as "Fly," "Someday" and "Every Morning," Sugar Ray soundtracked the boom-times brio of the pre-9/11 era more enthusiastically than anybody else.

In their original incarnation, these guys made Smash Mouth look like prophets of doom.

Not surprisingly, the last few years haven't done much to dampen Sugar Ray's spirit. On the dreadfully (if quite frankly) titled "Music for Cougars," singer Mark McGrath and his bandmates still sport the party-hearty attitude of freshly minted dot-com millionaires in a dozen uptempo tunes about rainbows, boardwalks and how she's got the woo-hoo (whatever that means).

These days, of course, the documentary vibe of the band's earlier stuff has transformed into an air of escapism -- not for nothing is one track titled "When We Were Young." But that hardly detracts from the crafty throwaway pleasures at which Sugar Ray still excels; in fact, it actually provides a touch of sweetness that helps temper McGrath's innate sleaze factor.

-- Mikael Wood

Sugar Ray
"Music for Cougars"
Two stars

Sugar Ray is scheduled to perform Tuesday night at the Best Buy location on West Pico Boulevard.