Sleep Without DreamsI’ll just come out and say it: the best thing about this album is the fold-out cover art that spans four pages of liner notes. Before I sound like a cruel reviewer, that’s not meant as a hit to the music, but as a huge nod to artist Josh Shears. Featuring an expansive world of jesters, thorns, faeries, tentacled crawly things, and a relatively somber five-piece band on the final page, this is the artwork that sells an album. Believe me, that cover is just the beginning. But on to the music.

Though you might not know it from the unfortunate moniker, 2*Sweet is much more alternative rock than teeny bop pop. Based in Chicago, the band was listed as Alternative Press Magazine’s “#1 Unsigned Band of 2007.” And with the opening few tracks, namely “Rested Eyes Tell No Lies” and “Miss You” it’s pretty clear why. Fronted by Justin Pence’s soaring vocals, the entire album (aside from the surprisingy slow, almost Western intro on “King Midas’ Desert”) pushes forward at a relatively frantic pace, driven by sweet guitar riffs and a pulsing drumbeat. When the guys are on (as they are in the two aforementioned tracks), they’ve got an undeniably impressive thing going on here. The hooks are catchy and the vocal stylings are unique enough to warrant a second listen.

“Give Me Your Gold” has its moments, mostly owing to the rhythm of the vocals and the track “Tarantula Perfume” is also surprisingly catchy, featuring additional vocals by Dan Nigro (As Tall As Lions), but unfortunately tracks like “Bury Me In The Lovers’ Graveyard” and “Funeral Moon” start to feel a bit repetitive before they’ve reached their full three-minute length. For an unsigned band 2*Sweet has more than enough charisma and energy, but they could improve by varying up their music a bit or finding a sound that’s a bit more unique.

Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: The Hot Topic, Warped Tour crowd
Stay Away if: You don’t like loud noises
Buy this on Itunes: “Rested Eyes Tell No Lies”

To download the album, visit Amazon
For more info on the band, including tour dates, check out their Myspace

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