When: Sat., Feb. 16 2013
SUGAR GLYDER Intricate without falling down the math-rock rabbit hole, Charlotte’s Sugar Glyder draws from the neurotic grandeur of Arcade Fire, the post-rock experimentalism of Explosions in the Sky and the heart-on-sleeve emo of Death Cab for Cutie to craft its brand of hopeful-but-anxious pop rock. Heartfelt, overly emotive and endearingly nerdy vocals recall Muse without that band’s bloated self-importance. Frontman Daniel Howe’s singing is just one piece of a layered jigsaw that includes regimented drums, jaunty, phased guitars and shiny New Wave synths. Gigging relentlessly and honing its songwriting since 2008, the quartet whips up sticky melodies with apparent ease. Prepping a new LP for its major-label debut, Sugar Glyder may have sanded off too many rough edges in the process. Recent material balances smooth songcraft with busy dynamics, but the surface sheen has begun to turn brittle. There’s nothing here that approaches the barely controlled mania and disco-fever bass that fueled the band’s best work, Poor Baby Zebra, in 2008. In hitting the big time, Sugar Glyder may be losing the quirky, slightly squirrely quality that made the band so intriguing in the first place.