Posted by: will | January 26, 2007


Sparta “Threes” (Hollywood)

Buy it at Insound!

Sparta is always a band that I have felt has been on the cusp of either hitting it big or breaking up. That is why it makes perfect sense that the band’s third album is released on their third different major label. The band’s debut Wiretap Scars was released on Dreamworks. When that label folded the band was moved over to Geffen where they released their sophomore album Porcelain. The band then parted ways with Geffen and signed to Disney owned Hollywood Records for their third album, Threes. I had extremely high hopes for Sparta’s new album. The band did lose a guitarist but also welcomed the arrival of new guitarist Keeley Davis of Engine Down fame. This, I hoped, would open the band up to exciting new dimensions. So, was that the case?

The first half of Threes bares an awful lot of resemblance to the band’s first two albums. “Untreatable Disease” plays like your normal Sparta song with an infectious rocking chorus that sucks you in. That formula plays out all the way to the album’s first single, “Taking Back Control” which is the album’s most demanding track. “Erase It Again” is where you see a new Sparta starting to emerge. It shows a more somber side to the band that was only hinted at on earlier releases. The band takes it a little too far though. “Atlas” touches scarily close to Coldplay territory. It even adds the dreaded backing female singers. It’s really not a bad song though…it just rubs me the wrong way. You can see a U2 influence here with the emotional ending. “The Most Vicious Crime” is an epic six-minute song that shows the many sides of Sparta. “False Start” is a single if I have ever heard one. The label should be all over this song. It’s anthemic and powerful and reminds me of the great Rival Schools. “Without A Sound” continues to prove that Sparta can write songs that should be all over rock radio. It’s smart and intricate, yet instantly accessible. Unfotunately, the female backing singers reappear on “Translations”, the album’s closing track. I was hoping that Keeley Davis would have a more prominent part in Sparta but it seems that he may have joined the band too late in the writing process. While you can see Davis’ fingerprints here and there on Threes, one hopes he can make a bigger impact on album #4. I just hope Sparta can make it there.

With Threes, Sparta seems poised to position themselves as an alternative rock behemoth. That is why it is too bad that alternative rock bands don’t really seem to matter in this day in age. If the band can cut some of the fat and and keep growing as songwriters I have high hopes that they might be able to find their niche and stick around for a bit. For now though, Sparta seems like a band destined to fail…at least on the major label scale. That’s a shame really and it certainly speaks to the fact that major labels have no damn clue what they are doing. Threes is yet another solid album from a band that deserves a better fate.

(This album probably would have made BEST NEW MUSIC if not for the backing female singers! Seriously, all rock bands need to lose them!)

RIYL: U2, Trail Of Dead, Rival Schools


Sparta – False Start (mp3)

Sparta – Without A Sound (mp3)



  1. Too U2-ish for me. I can see them being huge, they’re very slick and commercial.

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