Jon Caramanica
September 06, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Three fourths of Sparta were once three fifths of 2000’s hipster-rock upstarts At the Drive-In — they’re the guys without the floppy ‘fros. They’re also the guys without the meticulous emotional punch. Their debut vacillates between supersoft verses and garishly loud hooks, undermining their attempts at lyrical nuance. Though able musicians, they can’t focus songs that don’t have a center.

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