Being billed as a "best-of" compilation for the Juliana Theory, A Small Noise is not exactly the career-spanning collection of hits that listeners might expect. Thus, to serve as a better album guide, this record shall henceforth be titled, at least for this review, "Best of the Juliana Theory: The Tooth and Nail Years (1999-2001)." After all, songs from only three of the band's previous releases are accounted for here, and all three -- Understand This Is a Dream, Emotion Is Dead, and the EP, Music from Another Room -- were released during their time with Tooth and Nail. If one can look past the slight detail that Love and Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat are ignored altogether, this track listing isn't necessarily a bad thing -- after all, some of the Theory's most-loved songs came out of these earlier albums -- it's just a bit limited. Moving past this discrepancy, the tracks are situated on the record in chronological order per album and all the expected contenders are present. Hard-hitting rockers like "To the Tune of 5,000 Screaming Children" and "If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop?" highlight exploding drumbeats and searing guitars, while "Duane Joseph" and "Breathing By Wires," among others, showcase Brett Detar's powerful vocals. Other shining moments can be found in the bouncy, affectionate "We're at the Top of the World," and the delicate, engaging soundscapes of "You Always Say Goodnight, Goodnight," "August in Bethany," and "The Closest Thing." A Small Noise seems to be a rather modest title for a compilation such as this; though arguably an oftentimes unassuming band, the Juliana Theory have successfully made a name for themselves over the years among the indie rock/emo scene as making fierce, emotionally charged, and powerful music. This disc captures a young Juliana Theory doing what they do best, but seeing as not all of their work is evenly represented, it's hard to look at this release as a greatest-hits-type record. Instead, this is like a really good mix-CD that someone's Juliana Theory-obsessed best friend made to introduce a virgin Theory listener to the guys' back catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Corey Apar