Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sugarland - The Incredible Machine

An interesting question to ask someone who continuously spouts off about not liking country music might be, “Why, then, did you buy the Sugarland album this week?” That is an excellent question that does not have an excellent answer. Basically, I was sitting at my computer Tuesday morning before work looking at what had been newly released that day and didn’t see much that interested me, so I decided that in the absence of any albums I actually wanted to buy I would go country. The fact that I decided to buy something I didn’t particularly want versus buying nothing at all is probably an indication of a shopping disorder, but that is a blog topic for another day.

There is a good lesson in this, however: sometimes when you listen to music you don’t want to listen to, you find out you actually like it. I’m not saying I’ll go to work tomorrow with a plaid shirt and cowboy boots on, but I was surprised that there were a number of tracks on Sugarland’s new album (“The Incredible Machine”) that I really liked.

If you’re not familiar with Sugarland, they are a male/female country duo and should not be confused with Sugar Loaf, where my family skied in Michigan last year, or Candy Land, the popular children’s board game. My observation about Sugarland based on this album is that they are a very positive thinking people. There are no bad relationships or bad days or even bad hair days in Sugarland. Most of the vocals are from the female half of the duo and she must be the most chipper person around. This was somewhat of a refreshing change of pace from some of the music I’ve been listening to lately (I’m talking to you, Mumford & Sons).

Not surprisingly, the songs I tended to like most were the ones where the twang wasn’t over exaggerated and the lyrics weren’t too cutesy (I’m hard to please); there were definitely a few that violated both of those criteria. I really liked the title track (“Incredible Machine”), which I think is about airplanes but am worried that’s too obvious and I’m missing the real meaning, and “Find the Beat Again”, which is such a pick-yourself-up song that you’ll either feel cheered right away or find so annoyingly upbeat that you’ll want to smash your iPod- I am choosing to like it. I also really enjoyed a very quick (90 second) song that is the only one exclusively sung by Mr. Sugarland, here upgraded from his role as only a backup on a few other tracks. The song, “Incredible Machine (Interlude)” is really pretty and I would love to hear more of his voice on other songs. The first single from the album, “Stuck Like Glue”, wasn’t my favorite, but I actually liked it a lot more after I watched the video- sort of a cute twist on a stalker (what’s not to love?).

Sugarland is obviously a country group, but I don’t think they’re so over the top countrified that they can’t cross over to mainstream popularity- I call it Country Lite. If you’re like me and don’t usually fancy yourself a country fan, I still think you will like some of the tracks here. Enjoy!

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