More introspective, the subject matter on The Sticks matches the sounds, with tracks that alternately dwell on aggressive (“Cry Forum”), menacing (“The Sticks”), anxious (“Little Pistol,” “Dread in my Heart”), and emptiness (“Happy”). For those who still crave the odd harmonies and vocal jumps, tracks like “Infinitetessimal” and “Business Man” fit into the album’s sound while still retaining some of that style. “Let’s Fall in Love” utilizes the more uptempo rock song the band perfected on O My Heart but lacks some of the creative innovation we’ve seen from the band in the past, which leaves this track as something more appealing for rock radio listeners. The album is bookended by a similar piano track and the voice of a young boy. “Omen” seems to suggest an escape into death, and conclusion “To the Wild,” finds the narrator finding something new in the wild, escaping what has come in the preceding tracks, often destroying it. In some way Sticks seems like an attempt to escape the preconceived notions of the band. This is the sound of a band trying to forge a new path for themselves. The biggest flaw is that there is too much reliance on tried and true mainstream rock sounds, as on “Latter Days,” when we know that the band can be more creative sonically. It’s a consistent, cohesive album that tries to balance the quirky nature of the band with their more mainstream ambitions. (Last Gang Records, lastgangentertainment.com) Devin King
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