Sponge has got a boatload of tenacity and enough hooks left in their bag to keep playing the pop-music game -- even if their major-label train left town. For "New Pop Sunday," they push aside the romantic teen-anthem notions, opting for a sort of dark-night-of-pop approach. That's a shame, because Sponge's music doesn't really work without the overt pining. But they pull it off occasionally here: The lucid nihilism on "1,000 Days" neatly offsets Sponge's signature rock jubilance, and the album's opener, "My Lackluster Love," waxes expertly pathetic. "Live Here Without You," the single, is easily the album's strongest song. It succeeds because it loses the journal-poetry musings that crop up too often elsewhere on this CD. Unfortunately only "Radio Prayer Line" and "Planet Girls" approach the single's pure catchiness.
There are weird things going on here, too -- all sorts of nods to, gadzooks, typical moderate rock, and a bit of Marilyn Manson-aping vocal intonations, courtesy of frontman Vinnie Dombrowski.