Better Than Knowing Where You Are

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After alienating certain fans on 2005's hard-rocking Stop Doing Bad Things (despite plenty of critical praise), Spitalfield find a happy medium between ├╝ber-melodic emo and sucker-punch rock for their follow-up, Better Than Knowing Where You Are. The album has all the harmony-laden melodious rock fans first fell in love with, but the crunch of Bad Things is still lingering around to give the record a tougher feel than 2003's Remember Right Now. And as loved as that latter album is, this is indeed a good thing, since the eternally polished band combines the best moments of both records into one very strong album. "The Only Thing That Matters" shines with a confidence that suggests Spitalfield knows the ensuing songs are some of their best yet, and the subsequent "On the Floor" delivers on that knowledge with a bold urgency that manages to capitalize on their grasp of stirring vocal harmonies, while embracing shredding rhythms full-force. Helping the cause is the fact that Spitalfield's songwriting has sharpened dramatically, and the guys deserve credit for knowing exactly where to go big and when to hold back for maximum effect. Brazen guitars propel tracks like "Curtain Call," while the band restrains itself to just gentle picking in the lovely, piano-sprinkled "Novocaine" to come across loud and clear. By skillfully combining muscular vigor with soothing melody, Better Than Knowing Where You Are stands out as Spitalfield's most consistent and accomplished record yet. They've hit their stride so well that it'd be unfortunate for this record to be lost in the vast ocean of Chicago pop-punk as their last album was.

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