The Incredible Machine
Label: Mercury Nashville
With isolated exceptions like the well-rhymed "Little Miss," Sugarland's "steampunk" album barely sounds country at all. Where past discs have dabbled in Benatar and Bangles, this one overwhelmingly embraces an indirect lyricism and inflated emotion that'd come off almost as post-U2 Britpop if not for Jennifer Nettles' belting. Ornate keyboard inspiration opens and closes the set; the title cut has a slightly mechanized clank; single "Stuck Like Glue" moves from world-skiffle to lite-reggae rapping; "Find The Beat Again" is part glam-cheer. At least you can't accuse them of playing it safe.