Spymachine 16 How Things Come Apart

Delivered in poppy post-punk packages, Spymachine16 send out impassioned socio-political diatribes that are mostly well hidden behind gang vocal bellowing and handclaps. Dripping with the essence of mid- to late ’90s power pop, the band share some kinship with the likes of Superchunk, the Promise Ring (circa Nothing Feels Good) and a host of other bands who tried valiantly to sugar-coat the edges of Dischord-esque, politically-charged hardcore. While Spymachine 16 have the chops and a knack for dynamic arrangements, there’s something heavy-handed about their attempts to convey dissent in sunny songs. A track like "Paperwork” is quite effective, blending an emo voice with engaging phrasing and a marching clip, and the band have a live hit with the catchy, raucous "For the Jocks Who Scream From Cars.” Then there are songs with titles like "Autobiography: Some Notes on What’s Been Called ‘Internalized’ Racism” and "Disappointed Tourist, Lost and Confused After Wandering into a Free Trade Zone By Mistake.” Attempts to deal directly with complex subject matter are admirable enough but, in trading subtlety for bluntness, Spymachine 16’s charms become convoluted in a drone of keyboard-infused rock and badgering vocals. (Independent)