The Incredible Machine

Any remnants of country music left in Sugarland are wiped clean on The Incredible Machine, replaced by spit-shined arena pop that puts a premium on sky-high choruses and proves that Jennifer Nettles learned just as much from Jon Bon Jovi during their 2006 collaboration as he learned from her. "All We Are" opens the album with a megaton vocal sound that would do "Mutt" Lange proud, and from there the group abandons dirt roads for the kind of smooth, breezy highways favored by Alanis Morissette and, more recently, Avril Lavigne.

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The results are calculated and anonymous: "Tonight," with its slow-build chorus and keening guitars, sticks slavishly to the FM-torch-song blueprint, and in the cutesy "Stuck Like Glue," Nettles adopts an odd patois — think dancehall by way of Gwen Stefani. Sugarland are ruthless in their desire to leave no radio-ready trick untried, but in the end it's too much machine, not enough heart.

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