When you listen to Threes
-- Sparta's first release after losing founding member Paul Hinojos and switching from Geffen to Hollywood Records -- it's clear that the reformed and reenergized group is heading in a new direction. It seems to be settling into the "maturity" common to aging post-hardcore groups, shifting away from the Quicksand-like bombast of its earlier work and pushing for a more layered and nuanced sound. Hinojos' replacement, Keeley Davis (ex-Denali, Engine Down), deserves respect for keeping the train on the tracks. The group is at its best on hard-charging numbers like the single "Taking Back Control," with its sinewy bass line and arena-rocking choruses backed by a wall of guitar. Yet even as the tempo slows, the band adds some much-needed color with an assortment of swirling atmospheric distortion, indelible riffs, and pulsating new-wave touches.