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The Incredible Machine

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Album Review

Look no further than the Deluxe Edition of Sugarland's Love on the Inside for the roots of The Incredible Machine. On the earlier record, Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles placed a cover of the Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town," which was originally recorded during the '80s; and the '80s are the inspiration for the duo's fourth studio offering co-produced with Byron Gallimore. The steam-punk cover art notwithstanding, the melodies, harmonies, textures, and dynamics for most of the album's 11 tracks are rooted in music from the early MTV-era. The set begins with the anthemic "All We Are," with its church organ and synth intro that give way to clipped, compressed rockist guitar riffs and a chorus that was influenced by hair metal and OMD. The title track borrows heavily from U2's Joshua Tree period and Simple Minds post-New Gold Dream era. The drum tracks are big: heavy clean, snare, hi-hat, and kick drums permeate. While the composition and arrangements of most of these songs borrow heavily from another decade, the production doesn't. Other than the drums, most of the sounds here are processed right from Nashville's studio system. The album's first single, "Stuck Like Glue," liberally employs Auto-Tune, and features a near-rapped faux dancehall (as in reggae) break in the bridge; it's backed by contemporary country's requisite acoustic guitars, mandolins, and accordion are in the foreground with Nettles' voice. The other "country"-sounding track is "Little Miss." "Every Girl Like Me" channels a breakbeat snare, a stiff, funky bassline, and something that attempts a soul groove. "Find the Beat Again" and "Wide Open" are open nods toward new wave. Sugarland have always engaged their love of earlier rock and pop in their brand of contemporary country; just never so blatantly. The bottom line is that after selling more than four million records, Bush and Nettles are writing songs they hope will crossover to the larger pop market. The Incredible Machine is a collection of competent songs, held together by slick production.

Customer Reviews


Stayed up until midnight to get this album--it was well worth it. The songs are spectacular. Buy it. I swear you won't regret it!


Sugarland is my favorite band, by far. I bought the album at 12 last night. I was highly disappointed. It seems as though they forgot how to write a song! In just about every song they tend to repeat a phrase over and over again. I also felt that the songs were very short and lacked verses. The music, however, is phenomenal. Maybe the songs will seem better if I listen to them 100 times. Lets hope this is the case!


This is a wonderful album! It is something different from Sugarland's usual sound, but the songs are beautiful and I am already listening to them over and over again! LOVE this!


Formed: 2002 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Sugarland, the platinum-selling contemporary country act, began as a trio of songwriters from the Atlanta area, each of whom had enjoyed some level of renown as a solo country artist. Lead singer and songwriter Jennifer Nettles had previously fronted Soul Miner's Daughter, and her gospel background and deep soul approach to country music made her an ideal frontperson for the trio. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kristian Bush had formed half of the critically acclaimed duo Billy Pilgrim (along...
Full Bio