Now free from punk label Victory Records, Straylight Run has officially escaped the emo scene that singer-guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper found so suffocating as members of Taking Back Sunday. Straylight Run began as a reaction to emo's formula, and the band's early work sounded like kids scratching the musical itches they'd been unable to reach previously—varied instrumentation, structures, and moods, for instance—with understandably mixed results. On The Needles The Space, Straylight stays more focused. Acoustic guitars anchor the songs, with vocal layers and electronic flourishes filling them out. Hooks are mostly eschewed for atmosphere, and the generally subdued tracks cohere nicely, albeit dully. Needle is pleasant enough, but it needs more to stay engaging.

Advertisement