Forget what you think you know about Sugarcult. The Los Angeles, California-based quartet’s third album, Lights Out, is a modern rock revelation - and the band’s finest release to date. “This is a wake-up”, lead singer Tim Pagnotta screams on the album’s opening track.
Yes indeed. Welcome to the new world of Sugarcult.
Lights Out reveals the evolved sound & vision of an inspired band hitting their prime. A band that has, somewhat quietly, already sold close to a million albums worldwide (over 700,000 in the US alone) with their first two releases Start Static (2001) and Palm Trees And Power Lines (2004).
“Start Static was our primal scream and Palm Trees was our coming of age; Lights Out is our turning point,” explains Pagnotta, the band’s chief songwriter. Together with lead guitarist Marko DeSantis, bassist/vocalist Airin, and drummer Kenny Livingston, the band has definitely arrived.
Known and respected as one of the hardest working bands in the underground, they’ve remained untouched by trends, never content to rest in a single genre. Sugarcult is a band that has toured relentlessly for the past 5 years - building a dedicated domestic and international following. Most recently as the opening act on Green Day’s American Idiot tour (in US and Japan), the mainstage of Warped Tour, the main stages of legendary UK festivals such as Reading, Leeds, and Glastonbury; Japan’s Summer Sonic Festival; as well as top-billing on the coveted Take Action Tour and their own successful headline tours.
Lights Out is an album that covers diverse sonic territory, but always remains on course; with a distinct balance between classic songwriting and forward thinking: From the hard rock of “Dead Living” & “Riot” to the haunting ballad “The Investigation” to the classic pop of “Shaking” to the dynamic post-punk of “Los Angeles”, “Explode” and “Made a Mistake” & the infectious swagger of the first single “Do It Alone.”; Lights Out makes no apologies.
“Do it Alone” is about the sometimes joyful but often tangled mess of loveless sex. “I got time just to waste, if you would be my new escape,” sings Pagnotta, whose lyrics throughout the album reveal the pros and cons of one-night-stands and one man’s flawed attempt to avoid serious relationships.
“We talked early on about wanting to make a concise 11-song album that would go places that we hadn’t gone before as a band,” Pagnotta explains,“We narrowed down a batch of 25 songs. A number of them were about relationships, sex & regret - but at the same time, we wrote songs like “Out Of Phase,” which is about feeling disconnected from the modern world and “Los Angeles,” which is a love/hate song about this city that in many ways defines who I am.” DeSantis sees all of this as a recurrent theme, “People have love/hate relationships with themselves, their lives, their careers, even with love itself! We made a record about it.”
Pagnotta admits, “While making this record I realized that there really is no such thing as perfection in life. I’ve embraced the beauty of imperfection so much now, that I deliberately had math equations with wrong answers tattooed on my arm recently, as a constant reminder to myself.”
While the lyrics on Lights Out form a sort of thematic—and for Pagnotta, personal—arc, its music is the refined, propulsive wallop that drives the point home. Once more working with Palm Trees producer Gavin McKillop (PiL, The Church), and mixed by Tom Lord Alge (Weezer, Fall Out Boy, Marilyn Manson, Oasis), the band make the three-chord pop song sound like a study in modern-rock history - past, present and future.
DeSantis says, “Some of our biggest influence
s are bands that have always kept moving forward: artists like Elvis Costello and The Clash— that’ve placed some kind of value on their legacy, not just the immediate future,” he says. “We’ve come to realize that each album we make, each song we write, is going to be around a lot longer than any of us ever will.” All in all, Lights Out sees the band transcending their influences and rightfully coming into their own.
Lights Out is Sugarcult’s defining album and one that proves this band is ready to move out of the shadows of best-kept-secret and into the spotlight; Maybe they should have called it: Lights ON!