Although Promises Promises was released in the States by the same small indie label that handled their self-titled debut, in their native New Zealand Die! Die! Die! is now signed to major-label behemoth Universal. Similarly, in place of Steve Albini, who engineered the debut, Promises Promises is considerably more slickly produced by Shayne Carter, leader of the vintage NZ indie band the Straitjacket Fits. Between these two changes, Promises Promises sounds almost like the work of an entirely different band. Dropping most of the hardcore influences of the debut in favor of a considerably more melodic and less aggressive alt-rock sound, Promises Promises may be a disappointment to some of the trio's more doctrinaire early fans, but with the increased gloss and decreased spleen comes a better handle on both songwriting and arrangement. The outstanding "Britomart Sunset" features a far more confident use of Pixies-like quiet-LOUD-quiet dynamics than before, as well as a killer driving bass riff by Lachlan Anderson. Elsewhere, the downright poppy "Sideways, Here We Come" features a wordless falsetto refrain and a further exploration of the Franz Ferdinand-style dance-rock rhythms that were hinted at on the debut. It may be considerably more commercial than their first album, but Promises Promises is, crucially, also much, much better.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason