Sparta — a new band on a big label with quite a past to live up to (see At the Drive In). Their debut EP, Austere, hinted at the power and cohesive potential that the group possess, with four minimalistically produced cuts augmented by electronic flourishes and grounded in affronting vocals. Wiretap Scars, on the whole, proves itself to be a valiant progression. Slick recording values detract at times, and one feels that crisper guitar backing and fuller drums could have helped the tracks shine; but producer/engineer Jerry Finn makes up for these shortcomings with more than the occasional display of song sculpting savvy.
The Wiretap dozen are musically arresting and diverse enough to avoid accusations of formulaic writing. The punchy, brash opener, “Cut Your Ribbon,” sits majestically contrasted against the melancholy, epic emotion of “Collapse” or the disturbing brood that makes up “Cataract.” The shades of emotion are beautifully played — moments of contemplative loneliness reflect off riotous rebellion with grace and ease. The disc is brimming with freshness and potential for further explorations; but even if this is the last thing Sparta ever release, they’ve already established themselves as an intelligent, dynamic rock band. Wiretap Scars is a full-throttle feast.