Sparta

Threes

[4/5] Three albums. Three record labels. Three minor reinventions and just as many artistic progressions. Sparta are one of this community’s most consistent and widely respected bands for good reason. Threes, their first album with former Engine Down/Denali guitarist Keeley Davis onboard, is perhaps their most accomplished and least anxious record yet. Most of the wrinkles from frontman Jim Ward’s strained soprano have been smoothed, particularly on “Erase It Again,” where he genuinely channels Bono and that singer’s knack for making small stories sound huge. Ward’s vocal improvement is dramatic, no question, but without Davis, it’s hard to imagine Sparta songs sounding so expansive as “Unstitch Your Mouth.” Behind Ward’s expanding register, Sparta finally seem intent on realizing their destiny as an arena-filling, life-changing band. Once these players’ relationships evolve further, their future’s as wide as their sound’s become. (HOLLYWOOD) Tristan Staddon



ROCKS LIKE: U2’s The Joshua Tree • Thursday’s A City By The Light Divided • Engine Down’s Engine Down