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Threes Review

by James Christopher Monger

A new label (Hollywood Records) and a new guitar player (Keeley Davis) seem to have invigorated the mighty Sparta, resulting in an exchange of shadows with the often mightier At the Drive-In. While Sparta's previous releases have shown a knack for the brooding, bloody-fingered antics championed by bands like ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and British Sea Power, the memorable moments have been few and far between, something that has changed considerably with Threes. It only take 30 seconds into "Untreatable Disease" to see the spark returned to the once meaningful term emo, as vocalist/guitarist Jim Ward finds the middle ground between Jeremy Enigk's "Jack-in-the-box" howl and Brandon Flowers cocky but ruined self-assurance. "Taking Back Control" may pilfer liberally from U2's "New Years Day," "Atlas" may steal a page or two from Coldplay, and "False Start" could launch a thousand stadium lighters, but Sparta, especially on this record, sounds like a beast that's broken its chains and is fighting between the road ahead and going back from whence it came, and it's that indecision that makes Threes so electrifying, even when it's not sure of what it wants to be.

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