The Sugarcubes in a promotional band photo.
|Years active||1986–1992, 2006|
|Labels||One Little Indian
|Associated acts||KUKL, Björk, Purrkur Pillnikk, Þeyr|
Einar Örn Benediktsson
Margrét (Magga) Örnólfsdóttir
|Past members||Einar Melax|
The members of The Sugarcubes had formerly been in a variety of Icelandic bands. Björk had the longest career out of any of the members—she had recorded an album as early as 11 years old, and in her late teens, she joined the Icelandic post-punk band Tappi Tikarrass, who released two albums before splitting in 1983. Drummer Siggi (Sigtryggur) Baldursson was a member of þeyr, and Einar Örn Benediktsson and Bragi Ólafsson formed a punk band called Purrkur Pillnikk. By 1984, Björk, Einar Örn, and Siggi had formed the supergroup KUKL with keyboardist Einar Melax, and released 2 albums on the independent British record label Crass Records.
The Sugarcubes formed on June 8, 1986, with vocalist Björk, Björk's then-husband Þór (Thor) Eldon on guitar, and Bragi Ólafsson on bass. (That same day Björk gave birth to her and Þór Eldon's son, Sindri Eldon).
The band's music was characterized by a psychedelic post-punk sound sometimes reminiscent of The B-52's and Talking Heads, whimsical yet heartfelt lyrics, and the imploring, girlish voice of Björk, accompanied by Einar Orn's erratic vocal performances.
In late 1987, the band signed to One Little Indian in the UK, Elektra Records in the US. The Sugarcubes released their debut album, Life's Too Good, in 1988, to critical acclaim in both the UK and the US. They first came to notice in the UK when radio DJ John Peel played "Birthday". It became an indie hit in Britain, later voted single of the year, and a college radio hit in America. "Cold Sweat" and "Deus" were also released as singles and made the lower reaches of the UK charts, while the US single "Motorcrash" went top ten in the Modern Rock charts.
By the time the group recorded its second album, Þór had divorced Björk and married Magga Ornolfsdottir, who became the group's keyboardist after Einar Melax left. Bragi divorced his wife, who happened to be the twin sister of Siggi's wife. It was rumoured that he entered into a civil partnership with Einar Örn, but this turned out to be a hoax.
Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!, the band's second album, was released in 1989. The greater vocal contribution by Einar Örn on the record was criticized in many of the record's reviews, which were noticeably weaker than those for Life's Too Good. The singles "Regina" and "Planet" topped the UK indie charts but fared poorly in the mainstream charts outside of Iceland. After the release of Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!, the band embarked on a lengthy international tour.
At the conclusion of the tour in late 1990, the bandmembers pursued their own individual interests. Stick Around for Joy, the band's third album, was released in February 1992. Stick Around for Joy received better reviews than Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!, and spawned the band's first big hit single, the aptly titled "Hit". Further singles "Walkabout" and "Vitamin" failed to make any chart impact however, and shortly after the album's release, The Sugarcubes disbanded. A collection of remixes entitled It's It was released in October 1992 along with a re-release of "Birthday" which was backed by numerous remixes of the song. The band remain friends to this day and are all still involved in the management of record label Smekkleysa (Bad Taste Ltd).
On November 17, 2006, the band had a one-off reunion concert at Laugardalshöll sport arena in Reykjavík, Iceland, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut single with all profits going to the non-profit Smekkleysa SM to promote Icelandic music. They were supported by fellow Icelandic groups múm and Rass. Despite this reunion, the group has expressed that it has no intention to play future shows or record new material.
- Björk Guðmundsdóttir (vocals, keyboards)
- Einar Örn Benediktsson (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn)
- Sigtryggur Baldursson (drums)
- Fridrik Erlingsson (guitar)
- Þór Eldon (guitar)
- Bragi Ólafsson (bass)
- Margrét (Magga) Örnólfsdóttir (keyboards) - 1989+.
- Einar Melax (keyboards) - 1987-89. Replaced by Margrét Örnólfsdóttir.
|Year||Album||Chart positions||Additional information|
|1988||Life's Too Good||59||48||14||1||54|
|1989||Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!||–||–||15||1||70||Also released in an Icelandic version titled Illur Arfur.|
|1992||Stick Around for Joy||76||–||16||–||95|
Compilations and remixes
|Year||Album||Chart positions||Additional information|
|1992||It's-It||–||–||47||–||–||Collection of remixes|
|1998||The Great Crossover Potential||–||–||161||–||–||Hits compilation|
|AUS||SWE||UK ||UK Indie ||US Mod Rock||US Dance Play|
|1986||"Ammæli" / "Köttur"||Einn Mol'á Mann (Icelandic 500-only EP)||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1987||"Birthday"||Life's Too Good||—||—||65||2||—||—|
|"Luftguitar" (Iceland-only EP)|
|"Birthday" / "Christmas" (EP)||—||—||65||1||—||—|
|1989||"Regina"||Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!||—||—||55||1||2||—|
|1990||"Tidal Wave" (promo-only)|
|1991||"Hit"||Stick Around for Joy||76||28||17||—||1||—|
|"Leash Called Love"||—||—||—||—||—||1|
|"Birthday" / "Double Remix" (EP)||It's It||—||—||64||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
Vinyl and CD boxes
- 1989 - 12.11 (One Little Indian Records)
- 1989 - 7.8 (One Little Indian Records)
- 1989 - CD.6 (One Little Indian Records)
- 2006 - The Complete Studio Albums Box - 3× CD repacked box with three main English language studio albums. Released to celebrate 20th Anniversary reunion concert (One Little Indian Records)
Collaborations and featuring
- 1987 - Snarl 2 (Erðanumúsík), Icelandic compilation. Featuring under the name of Sykurmolarnir.
- 1987 - Luftgítar (Smekkleysa), album by Johnny Triumph.
- 1987 - Skytturnar (Gramm), soundtrack to the movie directed by Friðrik Þór Fríðriksson.
- 1988 - One Little Indian - Greatest Hits Volume One (One Little Indian), greatest hits (volume 1) released by One Little Indian.
- 1990 - Hættuleg hljómsveit & glæpakvendið Stella (Megas), album by Megas.
- 1990 - World Domination or Death Volume 1 (Smekkleysa/Workers Playtime PLAY), compilation.
- 1990 - One Little Indian - Greatest Hits Volume Two (One Little Indian), greatest hits (volume 2) released by One Little Indian.
- 1990 - Rubáiyát: Elektra's 40th Anniversary (Elektra Records), Elektra Records anniversary compilation.
- 1993 - Welcome to the Future (One Little Indian), compilation.
- 1988 - Sugarcubes Interview Disc (One Little Indian)
- 1992 - The Video, music video collection
- 1992 - Murder and Killing in Hell, music video collection
- 1998 - The Great Crossover Potential (One Little Indian)
- 1998 - Avengers (Soundtrack) (WEA/Atlantic)- Feat. Annie Lennox's Cover of The Sugarcubes "Mama".
- 1998 - Music Inspired by the Motion Picture: The Avengers (BIG EAR)
- 2006 - The DVD (One Little Indian), music video collection.
- 2006 - Live Zabor DVD (One Little Indian), 1988 live performance.
References and notes
- bbc.co.uk (2008). "Festive 50s". Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- bjork.com (2006). "The Sugarcubes bounce back into concert!". Retrieved 2006-10-02.
- "Chart Stats — Sugarcubes". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- "Indie Hits "S"". Cherry Red Records. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- Released under Johnny Triumph's name as track was a duet, not classed as strictly a Sugarcubes release.
- Jesus and Mary Chain remixes; disc 2 is a live EP.
- Review of reissued Sugarcubes video releases at Modern Peapod
- The Sugarcubes discography at MusicBrainz
- Interview with Einar Örn Benediktsson in Chief Magazine discussing the band's birth, breakup, and eventual reunion
- The Sugarcubes live in Copenhagen 1988, photo Peter Lind