Weíve definitely seen this one before: a bunch of well-dressed LA pop geeks with a major-label deal and rock pretensions the size of their Marshall stacks. There seems to be a pretty low ceiling on how far you can take this stuff these days, but that cold reality hasnít stopped Sugarcult (like their kindred spirits in Eve 6, Lit, Smash Mouth . . . you get the picture) from mustering up enough melody and muscle to make the grade.
Case in point: their chipper debut single, "Stuck in America," which sounds like Third Eye Blind covering Night Rangerís "(You Can Still) Rock in America" with a straight face. Singer Tim Pagnotta too often wallows in the same Britpop-derived mush that weighs down American Hi-Fiís Stacy Jones, but like Jones, he also knows a thing or two about writing decent pop tunes. The no-luck teenage runaway who sleeps with the boys for free on the hook-filled "Saying Goodbye" could easily be the girl from American Hi-Fiís "Flavor of the Weak"; the second time she shows up, just three tracks later on "Pretty Girl (the Way)," sheís not as much fun to sympathize with. The bandís hefty arena punk is more than serviceable throughout, hitting its fist-pumping high point on the flippant "How Does It Feel." As finger-licking pop metal goes, not quite Sugar and not quite the Cult ó but not half bad, either.
(Sugarcult open for Unwritten Law this Tuesday, February 26, at Avalon. Call 617-423-NEXT.)