So rebel! Get on the run!” chants Erase Errata’s Jenny Hoysten, breaking a three-year silence. Last heard from At Crystal Palace, the band’s second disc was 2003’s most effective protest record. Look away, and you’d miss another spiraling Hoysten soliloquy or jagged shrapnel flare from Sara Jaffe’s guitar, while bassist Ellie Erickson boasted the genre’s most convincing “Anthrax”-cranked-up-to-45 bounce. Their Gang of Four rip back then was more essential: the acknowledgement of Entertainment as precondition for dissent.
No surprise their new one’s called Nightlife. Less stat quo is Jaffe’s departure, leaving her gang of four a threesome; in this new incarnation, Hoysten’s gone from dazzling to disoriented (“I can do/The dizzy soft-shoe,” she boasts on “Tax Dollar”), left jogging in place by the drag of holding Jaffe’s old guitar. Where the band’s postpunk ping-pong was once the hook for a formidable manifesto, the order’s now reversed—the song title “Another Genius Idea From Our Government” is just a lefty come-on for the song’s jaw-dropping Erickson riff. It still cuts, just not quite as deep.