Lights Out

Written by: PP on 18/08/2006 15:41:45

Whether or not you've been following the 'scene' in the past few years or not, you should have noticed a trend of new pop punk acts breaking into the mainstream during the summer each year, and Sugarcult is no exception with "Lights Out". What seems to connect all recent pop punk breakthrough acts like Yellowcard, The Ataris or New Found Glory is the 2-3 excellent, raw-engergy filled pop punk albums in the late 90s/early 21st century, before they all toned down on speed, spending dozens of thousands of $$$ on (over)production and writing 'hit' songs for the radio. Again, Sugarcult is no exception.

It seems like all popular acts from the era between 1997-2002 are taking the same path. First, New Found Glory overproduced their latest album and lost the touch they had on "S/T" or "Nothing Gold Can Stay", then Yellowcard rid themselves almost completely of their lively violins on "Lights And Sounds", and now Sugarcult has removed their playfulness and jumpy riffs on "Lights Out". What happened to songs like "Bouncing Off The Walls Again"? Maybe the band just grew out of their sound, as the new record suggests with its much more mature sound, but even with the impeccably catchy "Dead Living" or "Los Angeles", the band has lost touch with their happy-side, and a darker sound has taken over. The drumming is sub-standard, 'lets get this done and over with' style with the beat barely changing from song to song, the guitars don't experiment in the higher pitch spectrum anymore, and Tim's vocals are more anxious than optimistic-rebellious like on the old classic "Stuck In America". Most songs on "Lights Out" follow the mid-paced ballad routine instead of the energetic pop punk the band is renowned for. Fortunately, the album is saved from complete disaster with the three or four moderately good songs like "Explode", even if the band sarcastically admits their surrender to major-label politics in the song ("The radio is here to stay, turn it off and walk away").

It's hard to justify a move which takes away a band's identity and character (the reason for their original success), and moves it into the evergrowing colossal mass of bands who sound so much alike it's impossible to distinguish between them. "The Investigation" and "Shaking" in particular are so unenergetic, so impassionate that should they ever see daylight in a live show, I'd head straight to the bar dreaming of the 'good old days' while giving the band the finger. Mind you, though, Sugarcult were never THE pop punk band of the last five years. They were good, and songs like "Stuck In America" will stick in the minds of everyone between the ages of 14 and 21 back then, but they never achieved the same kind of 'seminal' status like New Found Glory did for instance. Now, they're painstakingly average and often much worse than that. Like the band ironically screamed on their most popular song "Bouncing Off The Walls Again" in 2001: "ONE MORE SONG FOR THE RADIO STATION!"


Download: Explode, Dead Living
For the fans of: Yellowcard, The All-American Rejects
Listen: Purevolume

Release date 12.09.2006

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