The hooky, post-shoegaze swirl of Spacebar's phenomenal debut EP was an invigorating blast of smart poppiness that floated the woozy wallop of '90s alt-guitar bands atop a blend of catchy melodies and intriguing rhythm sequences. The addition of renowned local synth man Bill Hamel to the band's lineup raised an eyebrow or two, with some folks wondering if his propensity for trance beats would overpower the group's unabashed romance with Shields-ian guitar swoon. With the release of Our Fight
, the battle is over and the robots have won. Though most of the five songs on their debut are revisited, along with a clutch of new tunes, the viscous immersion they once evoked has been replaced by a sterile sheen that begs for the ladies to dance along, but little more. Those soaring melodies are still firmly in place ' there's not much that could be done to bury the effectiveness of a chorus like the one found in 'One to Rememberâ?� ' but relegating those once-endless guitar tracks to the back of the bus seems to be a poorly planned retreat from being pigeonholed as Sloan-but-from-Orlando. If the alchemy Spacebar envisioned from the addition of Hamel had resulted in a more propulsive bottom end, that would have been some chocolate-in-my-peanut- butter loveliness. But the remarkable thinness of this production winds up bleeding dry both Hamel's healthy appreciation of bass and
the distortion-drenched hypnosis of their guitar parts. (That the bonus disc of remixes sounds fuller and more thoughtfully constructed is doubly perplexing.) Though Spacebar's artful approach to alt-pop is unique in this city ' and it can't be stressed enough that those ruthless hooks are still in vast abundance on Our Fight
' it's nonetheless discouraging for their highly enjoyable sound to be derailed by someone's clinical production approach.