Following a masterful 2001 full-length debut, the Lawrence quartet lightens its sound somewhat on Process of Breaking. Harmonies lurk in the corners, guitar strings are plucked instead of accosted, and you can actually decipher a few of lead screamer Marty Bush's lyrics. Make no mistake about it, though -- this effort retains all of the group's trademark ingredients. If anything, the band has become more musically intricate and sonically ambitious.
Recorded at Love Juice Labs in Los Angeles, the five-song EP contains songs that have been part of Salt the Earth's arsenal for some time, including "Lyra," a bristling rocker that dates back to early 2002. As its title indicates, Process offers a lyrical dissection of relationships gone awry. "End Transmission" uses evocative imagery (Signal's breaking up/Can hardly make you out from this end) to hammer home its points. On occasion, the lyrics get a bit flowery, as when Bush gets lost in these swirling clouds. But this minor criticism should be taken with a grain of, um, salt. Process is a step forward for one of the area's more arresting ensembles.