Since their 2001 debut, Shakedown!, theSTART has experienced the typical highs and lows of being in a band. Founder and frontwoman Aimee Echo watched bandmembers come and go just as they gained national attention with high-profile tours with Weezer and Sparta. But with the personal shifts came a headache with Geffen and a lack of support. Leaving the majors behind and releasing two EPs on smaller labels, the second coming of theSTART arrives with the bloodletting that is Initiation. Echo proclaims her place in an instant. Whether it's her blistering caterwaul during "Peacocks" or her aching delivery on the darkwave lilt of "The Underwater Song," Initiation thrives on Echo's ambition and sensuality. She's not only a hungry punk, but a confident femme fatale aware of her own provocative sense of vocal (and personal) style, much like Siouxsie Sioux. Like Echo, guitarist Jamie Miller, bassist Erick Sanger, and drummer Billy Brimblecom are just as vigorous in maintaining the band's raw, original rock sound. The dynamic shared among the four of them is untouchable. The fact that it all comes together on Initiation showcases the bandmembers' undeniable talent and the power punch to do things their way. With Shakedown!, theSTART encouraged punk and pop fans alike to dance like no one was watching. The mission remains the same with Initiation, but with the thought of challenging conformity. From the foxy new wave shake-up of "All or Nothing" and the Banshees-like "A Thousand Years" to the playful guitar-driven number "Life Is Sweet," theSTART demand that the listener find a cause that's worth fighting for. Whatever it is, just do it and know the reasons why. Although Initiation sifts through ordinary problems of dysfunctional relationships, its underlying passion doesn't want "planets slipping backwards." The disheveled glamour that is theSTART burns with a fever throughout these 13 songs. TheSTART may have been down for a brief time, but they were never out.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson