When a Grammy and CMA award winning all American country music duo finally decide to release in the UK it’s telling that they choose their only album to date wiped clean of any discernable speck of country. With The Incredible Machine Sugarland launch an all out arena style pop assault with catchy refrains and sky high vocals. Coupled with some Stefani-esque breaks in their predicatably radio friendly first single Stuck Like Glue it’s either a recipe for sweet success or an overindulgant disaster.
Certainly for fans of their previous albums I suggest it will be the latter. The country twang and soft licks are gone and even Nettles’ vocal seems to have taken either a shrill or shouty turn for the worse, depending upon which track you’re listening to. There’s no denying she has a powerful voice but at times the throttle just needs to come off a touch. Whilst it’s bought down a little for the softer acoustic numbers such as Every Girl Like Me and Little Miss there’s still a distinct lack of variation, and unfortunately it’s not the only element to feel a little repetitive with title track Incredible Machine sporting a hideously monotonous backing track.
That being said, with the anthemic Stand Up and the addition of Bush’s vocal there’s still room to be won over. I actually quite like their latest offering as a standalone, I just don’t think it lives up to the expectation of their eariler work, especially after Love On The Inside hinted at a completely different and distinctly country direction. It remains to be seen whether current fans can be converted and newbies will buy into this squeaky clean Shania Twain-type pop like they have across the pond, but with a tour of the UK to be announced for November the incredible PR machine will likely have it’s work cut out. Personally I’m going to put Enjoy The Ride on and dance around my living room, eardrums intact for now at least.