Sponge

Stop the Bleeding

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Originally sold at concerts while Sponge was on tour with the 2013 package Summerland, Stop the Bleeding -- the alt-rock band's seventh album -- bears the same songs but a different track listing on its mass-market release on the End. In both incarnations, the ten-song album (there is a bonus cut, "Alcohol and Speed," on the mass-market edition) contains all five songs from the 2010 EP Destroy the Boy so you could safely say this is a hodge-podge, a feeling enhanced by the presence of an ominous, electronic-specked cover of Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" that brings to mind nothing so much as Marilyn Manson's "Sweet Dreams." Even if "Time in a Bottle" isn't as gothic and menacing as Manson's take on the Eurythmics, the revision is stuck in the '90s, as is Stop the Bleeding in general. Sponge remain adherents of angst-on-your sleeve cleaned-up alt-rock, tempering their grunge guitars with slicked-up hooks and percolating electronic flourishes, late-'90s futurism that now sounds retro. While it's hard to shake the suspicion Sponge think this will somehow get them back on the radio, it has to be said that the group does have a knack for a big hook, something that surfaces when the gloom is ratcheted down. Perhaps this won't be nervy or new enough to convert new fans, but old ones will be satisfied and the curious may be surprised to hear that Sponge are shaping up to be dyed-in-the-wool rock & roll survivors, the '90s equivalent of old warhorses from the '70s who refused to die.

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