Most of us have by now come to accept that ? modern country music is more a state of mind than a particular sound, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing that Sugarland’s latest is essentially a full-blown rock album. If only it weren’t, more specifically, a Bon Jovi album. The Incredible Machine‘s first single ”Stuck Like Glue” is the odd song out here, relying on their old acoustic/Americana sound.
On The Incredible Machine, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles has finally stopped affecting that ridiculous caricature of a Southern drawl that has marred many of her otherwise fantastic vocal performances. Ask and you shall receive, right? Unfortunately, that’s the full extent of the good news that the duo’s fourth album, The Incredible Machine, brings. Though its style alone makes it a sure bet to be hailed as progressive by those who only like country music that doesn’t sound a damn thing like country music, and just as sure to be reviled by country music purists, the real problems with the album are with its failures of execution and its inexplicable aesthetic choices.
Sugarland is an odd duck. The duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush has never really fit in on Music Row in many ways, yet has had big radio hits, toured with major stars who are much more “country,” and has picked up CMA awards for the past several years. With The Incredible Machine, Sugarland has distanced itself even more from the Nashville mainstream, and whether or not country fans will continue to embrace the evolving Sugarland sound will remain to be seen.
Chart-toppers in the US, the country-rock duo now look to break the UK. Chris Roberts 2011 Already certified platinum in the States, where it’s their third number one album, this is the first Sugarland release to test the UK waters. It may lose something in translation – booming country-rock anthems don’t always seduce the Brits, as Lady Antebellum might testify – but there’s no denying its aura of confidence and gleaming, slick production values.