Album review

Sugarcult :
Palm Trees And Power Lines

Artemis Records / Rykodisc

Sugarcult : Palm Trees And Power LinesSugarcult's 2001 breakthrough Start Static may not have pushed any musical boundaries, but it did contain a handful of tracks with hooks that could land marlins, from a band who's influences obviously stretched back a little further than Dookie.
    Frontman Tim Pagnotta had already told counterculture that he had purposefully avoided writing another Bouncing Off The Walls - surely Sugarcult's most recognisable song - and that Palm Trees And Power Lines was going to exhibit a big growth for the band. And finally here it is . . .

Despite the somewhat clumsy metaphor - "She's the blade, and you're just paper." - opener She's The Blade is what we've come to expect from Sugarcult: Aggression tempered by memorable melodies, layered vocals backed up by shimmering guitar . . . all wrapped up inside three minutes. The only problem is that this is about as good as it gets.
    Hey, if you've already seen the video to first single Memory and think it rocks then by all means go out and buy a copy of Palm Trees And Power Lines. I don't. It's a pleasant enough tune, buts its hook would have trouble going up against a fish finger. In short, it's virtually indistinguishable from the legions of Californian pop-punk acts that Sugarcult had seemingly risen above.
    There are highlights of course, but just not particularly bright ones. Destination Anywhere is isolated in its twisted edginess and Head Up is a hugely produced radio anthem that Jimmy Eat World could have penned.

Palm Trees And Power Lines isn't a bad album by any means, in fact it's pretty good, but crucially it's not as strong as Start Static, when it needed to be significantly better. I'd hoped for more from a band that really seemed to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Maybe next time.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

Go to top of page
Latest articles

Alone in the dark: Buffy The Vampire Slayer bows out in style with the Season Seven DVD Collection.

Johnny Knoxville plays him in the movie Grand Theft Parsons, but counterculture speaks to the man himself: Phil Kaufman interviewed.