Sugartown Cabaret - The First Time I Lost the Road Map (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Sugartown Cabaret

The First Time I Lost the Road Map (2007)

Abstraction / Paranoid

France's Sugartown Cabaret -- hailing from the same city as Amanda Woodward -- have devised a very cool style of emotional quasi-hardcore with their first full-length, The First Time I Lost the Road Map. While not *exactly* screamo, their sound is still frantic and driving and seems like it'd be a good fit with more vocally intense bands of that vein.

With opener "How Much Does the Plane Cost?", we're given flailing drum rolls and lush, atmospheric guitars, and then a hectic, lively vocal delivery shouted over it all. Musically, Sugartown seem to draw from the usual bed of influences (Envy, Raein), but they don't necessarily scream at all (at least not like they have on past efforts); it's really more of an agitated shout. And while their English singing produces some odd pronunciations, we can let it slide since my French isn't exactly on par.

Still though, the intense rush of instruments and slightly-less-intense-than-genre-expectation of the vocals gives The First Time a fairly interesting dichotomy and a presence that makes it stand out from their peers. Further, every song exposes a new, unusual inspiration, from the dirty classic rock licks of "Plane" to the Hydra Head-esque clatter of guitars in "Be Slacked," which bears slickly executed time changes. The mood swings and incredibly fitting, dreary horns of "Assis, A Regarder" make it a sure standout, as well. "All the Same She Said" even throws in a little bit of "the forbidden beat."

The recording on The First Time definitely merits attention, as well. Every octave and squeal is highlighted beautifully, and the overall production is just vivid without being glossy.

Over the course of 8 songs and nearly 45 minutes, Sugartown Cabaret have crafted quite an ambitious debut that really manages to retain the listener's interest for its entire run. I'm sure it helps that they've been developing their sound for close to three years, but even then, this is greatly impressive stuff.

How Much Does the Plane Cost?
Assis, A Regarder