Just last summer Sugarcult had all the Kerrang! kids bouncing off the walls with complaints of the band being stuck in America. In all seriousness, when Sugarcult did break the constraints and visit our fair shores the impact was less than spectacular despite the fact that the album they were promoting (Start Static) was only just short of brilliant.
Palm Trees and Power Lines begins in a relentless fashion with She’s The Blade a quality amalgamation of all that’s great about punk rock. The lyrics are quality as well – if anyone can beat, “Don’t make a move tonight / You can only stagger,” as an album’s opening words then they deserve a medal. Or a pint – on me.
Once your attention has been firmly grasped Crying steps up a notch on the rock scale; it’s very heavy (for punk) with a brilliant bass line and, graciously, singer Tim Pagnotta avoids plunging into shouty-shouty vocals. This ambience continues in What You Say, which boasts a riff shamefully similar to Nirvana‘s Breed.
There are also clear allusions to the Peter Pan band of punk rock – Blink 182 – although they are showing signs that they might be maturing. Memory juxtaposes modern day Blink’s lyrics with music that wouldn’t be out of place on Enema Of The State, while Back To California is virtually identical in structure to Stay Together For The Kids.
Worst December, for all its disgusting lyrics – “All I wanna do is lie in bed with you” – is actually a pretty good track. Ignoring the lyrics it would stand up on any Foo Fighters album.
If Sugarcult are living the life depicted on Champagne then good luck to them: “All I can taste is champagne / When it hits the brain like cocaine.” As long as they can keep churning out songs like Counting Stars I don’t care what they do for entertainment! It’s quite simply the best punk ballad since Fenix Tx‘s Flight 601 (All I’ve Got Is Time). It even blurs into the album’s closer to neatly tidy things up.
Palm Trees And Power Lines isn’t original, there’s no question about that. But its brilliance lies in the fact that the best of other influences have been thrown into the equation, making a finished product that is pretty damn good.