Just about every band out there ends up with a song or two expressing a deep-held desire to spread their wings because they are jaded with the current state of affairs. Sugarcult’s third album, Lights Out, is jaded and yearning for more, which is ultimately what their fans may feel upon repeated listens.
Sugarcult have always relied on squealing instrumentals sure to get fans jumping around and singing along, even if the music falls squarely into the pop-punk category. Lights Outis no different, although the tones are just a little bit darker and Tim Pagnotta’s vocals just a little bit rougher than we have heard before. The title track is merely a shout-along intro to “Dead Living,” which will get you well acquainted with the overall sound of the new CD. Glossed production brings the manic-depressive “Los Angeles” to the forefront of the CD in all its shimmering glory and radio readiness. Sugarcult has always stood on the strength of their singles, and as the second single, “Los Angeles” will help them try to return to the mainstream. Following quickly is “Do It Alone” (the first single from Lights Out, conveniently), which provides a more upbeat song reminiscent of Start Static. The chorus repeats a bit too often, but it is certainly sugary and memorable.
There is a three-song lull in the album that will probably turn many listeners away from the “new” Sugarcult. “Explode” has some near-laughable lyrics, and frankly, it does nothing we have not heard before. “Out of Phase” and “Made a Mistake” follow a similar pattern, although they would probably both have fit well on Palm Trees & Power Lines. “Riot” is the closest that Sugarcult come to shredding, but they put together what would have been a compelling pop-punk song in 2001, picking the album up again from the simply average stage. They follow up with “Majoring in Minors,” which has become a personal favorite for its instrumental nuances and some of the best lyrics on the album. After the chugging guitars featured on “Shaking,” the album tails off to a close with the interminably boring “The Investigation” and the simply dull “Hiatus.”
Lights Out could have been Sugarcult’s repossession of former glory. It has all of the elements of a great rock album. There are the soaring hooks, gleaming production, and inherent catchiness staring back at you from the speakers. Unfortunately, they just cannot put it together for any length of time, and the album falls mostly on deaf ears. There are a few standout tracks, but the rest of it just seems like shiny filler. For a few more years, Sugarcult will remain a “singles” band.