Sugarcult - Palm Trees And Powerlines
Either used as a term to describe, or as music performed by disaffected kids, punk has grown into the music that, in the US, soundtracks frat parties whilst over here, we've got a boy band with punk haircuts, riffs and radio-friendly melodies. The last time punk was as popular as this was when a monarchy act was invoked to keep the Sex Pistols off the number one spot in Jubilee Year but with Busted selling out arenas filled with teenage girls and, to get there and back, their parents, who see a little of their youth reflected in their gaze, punk's back in but now associated more with hair gel and soft drinks than riots and cider.
Having spent the last two years on tour, Sugarcult follow up their debut, Start Static, with this, titled and written after their home state of California. Featuring the same sharp songwriting as their debut, there's more a sense of a band tired of being on tour on this album, yet with a feeling of not wanting to go home either, which introduces a more downbeat note than, say, Green Day or Blink-182. This is most noticeable on Back To California, Over and, ending the album with feelings of loss and disappointment, Counting Stars and Sign Off.
Elsewhere, however, Palm Trees And Powerlines is all double-riffed punk with lyrics that sound like they really mean it but have all the 4 Real of middle-class kids doing drama class. Opening track, She's The Blade is the surest way the could have kicked off the album as it gripes about a girl to a set of chords that could have been lifted off an original seventies punk album. Set around the slower rock, this pop-punk, whilst superficially sounding like Blink-182, lacks the sheen of major-league rock and though never exactly underwhelming, falls just short of having the choruses for daytime radio.
Then again, with Start Static having sold 300,00 in the US, Palm Trees And Powerlines will doubtless hit a million, giving Sugarcult to continue to get their sound together as the size of the venues, audiences and the number of summertime suburban barbecues they play all increase.