Straylight Run Prepare To Be Wrong

With this sadly ironic title for their sophomore release, Straylight Run come tragically close to escaping the mediocrity of their debut full-length with an EP of more experimental material. They don’t escape, however, and instead wallow in half-finished ideas and production elements that would serve to elevate a great song, but here seem built to disguise a decent one. As former guitarist/vocalist for super emo mainstays Taking Back Sunday, John Nolan, Straylight’s brain trust, has always maintained a firm footing in the world of the poppy and the predictable. Basing his songs here more on piano than guitar, there are still moments of pop glory, such as the bitter, Sunny Day Real Estate-like "A Slow Descent,” a favourite from the band’s early demos. Sticking out like a much-needed sore thumb is the brilliantly heavy "Hands in the Sky (Big Shot),” whose bizarre, electronically-drenched second half is a complete departure from the group’s past work. Sadly, the rest of this EP doesn’t even attempt to push the envelope in the same way, especially the offensively unnecessary cover of Bob Dylan’s "With God on Our Side.” (Victory)