The songs of this Colorado four-piece remain the same -- more or less straightforward laments of adolescent angst and hope against hope. Similarly, 34 Satellite's head-bobbing hooks remain familiar enough to leave you studying, pleasurably, on where you've heard them before, without ever allowing themselves to be pinned down. (One exception: "Get Out Alive" cops verses from the Replacements' "I'll Be You.") Still, the lyrics, and even the melodies, are frequently less important this time out than the sparking licks, mechanical thump (courtesy of drummer Mark Boquist, a KC native), string wash, and right-angled power chords highlighted by the band's new producer, John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr.). Indeed, when the words disappear altogether, it can be a bummer for listeners who want their soundscapes to augment some sort of narrative-derived emotional response.
Stop is at its best on the tracks that retain a hint of twang -- as on the Tom-Petty-does-new-wave jangle of "Longest Day" -- as well as on the cuts that deploy quiet-loud-quiet dynamics similar to "Creep"-era Radiohead. On the title track, over not much more than a strummed acoustic guitar, singer Marc Benning begs someone for help: 'cause I can't make it on my own. Then a wall of guitars screams its painful response. One moment, you're staring, wonderstruck, at machine-polished pebbles shimmering delicately in dim light. The next, someone has flung them hard in your face.