A brief review of Sugarland’s newest, and arguably most anticipated, album.
First and foremost, let me say that I am a fan of Sugarland. I think Jennifer Nettles oozes stage presence and her voice is rugged and fresh. Kristian Bush, one the other hand, is the cream to Jennifer’s sugar. He has a sneakily good voice and his guitar, while not flamboyant, is solid and fun. That being said, I approached “The Incredible Machine” with higher than a kite expectations. I wanted it to be “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac with a dash of Janis Joplin and a dash of Patsy Cline. I wanted it to be all that and a bag of chips. Well…
It wasn’t bad. No bag of chips but on the whole it was pretty satisfying. Nettles and Bush, in the pre-release media frenzy, touted the album as an album that was designed to be played in big arenas; big, loud arenas with tens of thousands of screaming fans. If that is the case, then I guess they succeeded on a big scale. Almost every song has a big, rollicking chorus with lots of monosyllabic chanting and prompting and, at times, that technique has a big payoff. “Stand Up” and “Little Miss” both work as anthems and will certainly get plenty of air time. However, the technique falls a little flat in songs like “All We Are” and “Find the Beat Again” where it feels like the song manipulates the audience in to singing along.
While the album has a big feel, it does have a couple of understated gems. “Every Girl Like Me” is the best song on the album as it showcases Nettles’ ability to embody a real, tangible persona and express the feelings of that persona. Similarly, “Stuck Like Glue” allows Nettles to be funny and flirty, which inevitably fits her style most holistically.
Do yourself a favor and skip through “Tonight” and “Wide Open” as they are just add-ons to get to a full 11 songs. Of course, they will probably shoot to the top of the charts and I will look foolish for saying that, but with so many really original and great songs, it seems silly to waste time on those dogs.
In the end, I will probably listen to this album ‘til it’s completely worn out and then I will clamor for the next one they are sure to bring us. Enjoy.