By Dalton Ross
Updated August 13, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

People mellow when they get older, so it’s no surprise that the sophomore album from this emo-meets-arena-rock quartet Sparta lacks some of the frantic energy that marked the band’s debut, 2002’s ”Wiretap Scars.” Not to imply that Porcelain is any less powerful. In fact, it’s a much fuller record — more personal, cohesive, and daring. Yes, that’s a string section you hear. Yes, that’s some chick speaking French in the almost nine-minute ”From Now to Never.” And yes, somehow, almost impossibly, it all works.