Athens-based trio Five Eight have been around, sporadically, since 1989, but their self-released and self-titled sixth album has the spunk of a new band's debut. It's easy to imagine singer/songwriter Mike Mantione, a diagnosed manic depressive, sitting through yet another album of nothing-new mewling from yet another sad lil' emo band and thinking "You wanna see emotional torment? Watch THIS!" before writing the fairly horrific "Criminal," a presumably fictional tale of living with guilt after causing a friend's death through drunk driving. After that cathartic opening salvo, however, Five Eight dial back a bit on Mantione's usual angst to create a somewhat more hopeful set of tunes that traffic more in wry ruefulness and clear-eyed self-appraisal than outright anger and whining. Even better, the trio's clean, precise arrangements avoid the sludge trap that ensnares so many similar bands, and they're clearly able to handle tempos above the traditional snail's pace. If this was Five Eight's first album -- and it seems that Mantione intends it to be a fresh start -- then it would be the sort of debut that makes listeners look forward to what's coming next.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason