Sugarcult, Simple Plan and MxPx

Once, when asked his opinion of power pop, crotchety indie illuminati Steve Albini offered: "I cannot bring myself to use the term 'power pop.' Catchy mock-descriptive terms are for dilettantes and journalists. I guess you could say I think this music is for pussies and should be stopped." Tell us how you really feel, Steve.

Sugarcult is--first and foremost--a power pop band. Whether that classification comes from a journalist or dilettante is beside the point; the rub of Albini's quip is that it represents a common assumption: Power pop is for pussies.

But with a record like Sugarcult's recent Star Static, Albini's opinion is a tad misguided. The big guitar ditties have no shortage of muscle, stealing bits and pieces from genre forefathers like the Attractions, the Raspberries and (of course) Cheap Trick. It's not just a patch job of borrowed influences; Sugarcult's ability to turn a clever phrase while bopping to a backbeat makes the band something of a rarity, a throwback to the slightly less affected days when a good tune was just that--a good tune. They certainly can write and play circles around most of the junk bands they tour with--mall-punk lightweights like Saves the Day and Good Charlotte. When Sugarcult opens for dreadful sk8r boi mock-ups MxPx, you can count on the set being short and sweet. But pay attention to "Bouncing Off the Walls Again," a single that actually charted for a hot minute in the spring of last year. If you aren't dancing along to the triumphant, midtempo drug anthem, well, you can just stand in the corner with grumpy ol' Albini.