Streetlight Manifesto

Somewhere in the Between

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Although Somewhere in the Between is the third full-length release by Streetlight Manifesto, longtime fans are more likely to view it as the band's sophomore effort. 2006's Keasbey Nights was, for all intents and purposes, a refurbished replica of the Catch-22 album by the same name, complete with the same vocalist and few (if any) musical changes. This makes Somewhere in the Between the band's first effort of all-original material in nearly five years, and Streetlight Manifesto is no longer the fresh-faced group that once rose from Catch-22's ska/punk ashes. They've spent a half-decade on the road, touring with ska stalwarts like Reel Big Fish while weathering lineup changes and several robberies of their equipment-filled van. Losing treasured bandmates and expensive instruments would dampen anyone's spirits, and Streetlight Manifesto does sound a bit less reckless here, but not at the expense of the group's peppy ska/punk appeal. While 2003's Everything Goes Numb saw vocalist Tomas Kalnoky rushing through his lines, cramming them chock-full of syllables and raspy melodies, Somewhere in the Between shows him improving as a lyricist and vocalist. The rasp is still there, but so is a focused tone that we haven't heard before, particularly during the subdued intro to "Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Café." Despite his improved vocals, Kalnoky remains the most punked-out member of the band, whose other members play their horn lines and guitar chords with crisp, bright precision. It's this balanced relationship -- clear orchestration and jaunty tempos paired with rasped melodies about the macabre ("Would You Be Impressed"), war ("Watch It Crash"), and sin ("Forty Days") -- that ultimately governs the album, and even if Somewhere in the Between can't match the raucous nature of the band's debut, it's nevertheless a catchy follow-up.

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