Superstring Theory's debut EP, Same Damn Story, was a promising if disjointed disc of small-budget electro-pop. The duo's sophomore effort, Everything Before Now, follows exactly the same formula -- only with bigger ambitions and a wider panorama. Like She Wants Revenge without the wrinkles, singer/guitarist Jeff Eyser and keyboardist/ programmer Justin Reinking have crafted five songs full of bitmapped beats, grinding synth lines and disco-punk mope. And while the CD's strength is its relative variety within that paradigm, not all of the Theory's experiments hold up. The opening track, "I Can't Get Enough," may bear direct and favorable lineage to the Faint, but "Now Is Not the Time" is an abysmal stab at acoustic sensitivity that sounds strained and saccharine. The most surprising cut, though, is "Where Do I Begin," which chucks the angst entirely and goes straight for the pop-punk throat with a fistful of bright hooks and sheer exuberance. Everything simultaneously soars higher and falls flatter than its predecessor -- but at least it takes risks and knows how to have fun.
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