The album starts off like At The Drive In, but that's the only time the former band raises its head. El Paso, Texas, hot spots Sparta's debut album has other moments where they are a dead ringer for Weezer and another where the reference point is Foo Fighters, but for the most part, the debt of gratitude is owed to Sunny Day Real Estate. As a band in 2002, there are much worse places to look than Seattle, 1993, and Jeremy Enigk's posse. This isn't to say Sparta is derivative; it's just a reference point. The snarling riffs on "Air" might be Foo Fighters-esque, but there is plenty going on during Wiretap Scars that is next generation. Angular, shouty and in your face, "Sans Cosm" brings the juice like OJ only wishes he still could, while the effect-laden "Echodyne Harmonic" brings to mind Radiohead. There's a lot of SDRE circa Diary going on here, but since At The Drive In is in (semi) permanent hibernation, why not live by the credo "when in Peloponnesius, do as the Peloponnesians do: be Spartan."
JEREMY P. GOLDSTEIN