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Palm Trees and Power Lines

Sugarcult

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Album Review

Sugarcult's 2001 debut, Start Static, had its share of filler, but the band that brought listeners "Stuck in America" and "Bouncing Off the Walls" certainly understood the power and marketability of shoutable choruses and giddy hooks played loud. Palm Trees and Power Lines, their sophomore major-label effort, might not be as direct, meaning they want to trade a bit of the bubblegum for some mall-punk songwriting cred. Its formula — a clutch of upbeat rockers paced out with a few girlfriend-pleasing ballads — is exactly the same, so the album will still please most of Sugarcult's Warped Tour constituency. But there's a sense that its hooks are more murky, that perhaps the bandmembers are aiming for some "seriousness" this time around. "Champagne" could be about the perils of celebrity overconsumption; its cleaned-up Nirvana vocals carry over to the cleansed So-Cal punk of "What You Say." "She's the Blade" mixes some minor chords into its tale of backstabbing romance, but is still guided by giddy pick slides and a head-bouncing singalong chorus. Even lead single "Memory" nixes the full-on anthemic antics of blink-182, instead co-opting the faceless, vaguely punk-influenced hard rock model of, say, American Hi-Fi. This is what makes Palm Trees a bit strange. It includes the melodrama of "Back to California," and consistently dials back the giddiness that defined Static. Luckily, whether through its thick, glossy production or the band's own desire to make the kids happy — not make them think — Sugarcult keep Palm Trees on a mostly enjoyable track. All groups deserve the chance to stretch their songwriting chops a bit, and Sugarcult do here, but they know their niche is in direct guitar chops and inclusionary lyrics. "All I want to do/Is lie in bed with you," they sing in "Worst December," and even if you can't figure out what the song's supposed to be — is it punk? Is it pop? Is it Toad the Wet Sprocket covering Jawbreaker? — it probably works just fine for the kids. In the end, after their dalliance with Being Serious, Sugarcult are thankfully more concerned with pleasing the crowd than making a statement.

Customer Reviews

Wow

Been listening to this album since 04. Man Ive listened to this album and memorized every song. It's been with me through the good and the bad. Listened to it on road trips on repeat, 15 mile long board sessions to the beach, needless to say this album got me though a lot and not just grew on me, but will always be with me. Just like New Found Glory, and Taking Back Sunday. It's weird of me to write a review like this cause I mainly listen to deathcore and hardcore but it all started with this. Man this album will never be just a memory.

Sugarcult

Very good album. I heard of them through memory and decided to check out the rest of their stuff. This album is one of my favorites. Over and Memory are my two top favorites.

RADICALL.

sugarcult is a must have. i cant believe people dont review. chyahh, its wayy radical.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Santa Barbara, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Santa Barbara, CA, alternative rock quartet Sugarcult (singer/guitarist Tim Pagnotta, guitarist Marko DeSantis, bassist Airin Older, and original drummer Ben Davis (who was later replaced by Kenny Livingston) took their name from a moniker that lesbian neighbors who lived next door to the band called themselves. Forming in 1998, the band's first show (a trio at the time) was opening for Superdrag at a local club. It was here that they met DeSantis — who'd previously played with such bands...
Full Bio
Palm Trees and Power Lines, Sugarcult
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