Sugarcult - Palm Trees and Power Lines

The artwork on the album sleeve suggests a new sense of maturity and cultural awareness from the band who have enjoyed enormous success since the release of ‘Start Static’ three years ago, and it’s befitting of the whole album. The photograph and drawing montage gives an interesting portrayal of Sugarcult’s native birthplace and habitat, the now-legendary music scene of California. It presents several romanticised, Americanised images against the gritty, realistic backdrop of the state’s broken dreams and failed ambitions. Much as the music does...

Tim Pagnotta’s growly vocals are very similar to Matt Skiba’s on first track: ‘She’s The Blade’ which is by no means, a bad thing. The first song is a catchy and riotous introduction to an album that offers enough diversity to keep you interested, whilst still retaining that sense of identity and knowledge of where it all began.

This is their number two: (luckily, not in a lavatorial sense) it’s a recognised difficulty in the music industry: ‘second-album-syndrome’. A lot of bands suffer the repercussions of a poor follow-up for the rest of their career, but Sugarcult have produced a sturdy record that will prolong their progress and keep them on the road playing every night to their happy fans who’ll be bouncing off the walls. It may not be Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ but it’s certainly a passable sequel.

The band is tight and the music is very well set out, due to the competence and experience of the musicians, especially guitarist Marko 72, who previously played with other renowned pop-punk outfits, The Ataris, The Swingin’ Utters and Nerf Herder, the band behind the ‘Buffy; The Vampire Slayer’ theme tune. It’s all held together by the rhythmical stamina of Kenny Livingston’s drums… So, that’s where he’s been since appearing on Blur’s ‘Ernold Same.’ Ken Livingston… Oh, don’t worry, it’s an English thing!

‘Memory’ is a very strong track, providing extremely catchy vocals over hard-cutting guitars, but ‘Destination Anywhere’ is where’s it’s at! From the opening few bars, you could actually mistake it for Duran Duran, with its luscious bass line and rapidly strummed steel string chords. Proof that the 80’s WERE cool! Well done Sugarcult. It then moves to the palm-muted pre-chorus which is very Foo Fighters, it’s a good song: dancey, with some very inventive guitar sounds and an excellent vocal melody.

‘What You Say’ is the other standout track on the album, Nirvana gate-crashing The Hives’ rehearsal room. With the tom and bass section that comes in at about one-minute-thirty, there’s a definite Kurt Cobain apathy in Pagnotta’s gruff voice, dead sexy, takes you back to ’91! Nostalgia.

The album ends with the appropriately named ‘Sign Off’ and it’s a sad acoustic piece, a little gem that paints the picture of unaffordable and unreachable, but, desirable happiness, a tearjerker without a doubt and it’s only two minutes, fifteen seconds.

You’re left with the sound of a closing door, but a sense of fulfilment. Not an album that inspires too much thinking or forces a world opinion at you, and when your in the mood for something light and upbeat, this is a very suited recommendation.

It is what it is and it is what it should be. Nothing appears forced on this record - or restrained, it’s the music Sugarcult want to make and the enjoyment they get from producing it is evident in the sound. Sugarcult will be a pop-punk act that won’t fade into obscurity as so many of their contemporaries do. It may not rival Nirvana’s breakthrough, but it can definitely stand on it’s on two feet with it’s head held high. Nearvana, but not Nirvana, oh well, whatever, nevermind. [Ed - OH NO WHAT A PUN!]