Review Summary: Sugarcult creates a good pop-punk album. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Sugarcult is an American pop punk/power pop/rock band from Santa Barbara, California formed in 1998. It is comprised of Tim Pagnotta on guitar and vocals, Airin Older on bass and vocals, Marko DeSantis (commonly known as Marko 72) on guitar, and Kenny Livingston on drums. The band is named after a group of lesbians who lived in an apartment near where Tim used to live; he dubbed the occupants in the apartment the Sugar Cult girls.”[Wikipedia]
Sugarcult is nothing new. Sugarcult is not at the top of the pop punk spectrum, they aren’t re-inventing the genre, and they aren’t changing how we think of pop-punk. They’re creating good pop-punk songs with one mission; be catchy as hell.
<i>Lights Out</i> is a fantastic 35 sec. intro that lets the listener know what the rest of the album is going to be like. It flows perfectly into the next song, but I just wish it was a full song, as it is my favorite Sugarcult song. <i>Dead Living</i> is the perfect example of what
Sugarcult is; a simple rhythm section, pop vocals, a solo thrown in near the middle of the track, and a catchy chorus. <i>Los Angeles</i> seems to be a fan favorite, and I don’t see what the big fuss is about. The verse is nice, but the chorus is just like every other Sugarcult song, just a tad bit weaker than usual. There is some interesting guitar at 1:24 which leads into the chorus again. The song is a typical Sugarcult song, so why it is hailed as the best on the record baffles me. My personal favorite on this album is the two song combo of <i>Explode</i> and <i>Out of Phase</>. Explode doesn’t follow the same format as the rest of the album, while Out of Phase is just catchy as a mother***er.
It would be unwise of me to individually discuss all the songs from this record. Almost every song follows the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus formula. It can make the album seem a little tedious to listen to, and it often seems like the songs drag on for just a little too long. One prime example of this is Dead Living. While Dead Living is a fine track, it should end about a minute before it actually does. It’s unfortunate that these tracks seem to run on like they do, as it is the most major flaw on this album.
Tim Pagnotta is the vocalist for the band and carries most of the load. His voice isn’t special, he can’t reach any crushingly high notes, or sink down to any incredibly low notes, but he is great in the middle ranges. Sugarcult is a vocal-centric band, and Tim Pagnotta is the perfect vocalist for them. He has a great tone, he isn’t whiny, and he’s always on pitch. Tim Pagnotta is Sugarcult’s greatest strength and takes the album to places it couldn’t possibly reach without him. His vocals particularly shine on <i>Shaking</i>, staying in a lower register than most singers in the genre. His voice skims across the chorus and mixes beautifully, calming and soothing the listener and engulfing them into the song.
The guitars on this album are by no means complex. The solos are really simple, and the rhythm section is even simpler. This isn’t a guitar-centric band though, so the fact that the guitars are generic and never really stand out isn’t really a big deal. The drums are there purely to keep time. Every once in a while they will help with a semi-interesting fill, but for the most part it’s just bass drum/hi-hat patterns with the snare drum hit on the off-beat. It’s really basic and extremely underwhelming, but it serves its purpose. This isn’t remotely progressive. This is just full of simple, catchy rhythms that keep the record going.
To be honest, if there is one thing that this album is full of, it’s catchy choruses. This is an album that you may not necessarily love after first listening to it, but you’ll be trying to force one of their choruses out of your head after a few hours. This album isn’t groundbreaking or technically impressive, but it’s a solid pop-punk album from a solid band.
Out of Phase