(Dreamworks Records 2002)Ours - Precious

On "Precious," their sophomore release, Ours are still the melodic rockers you met on "Distorted Lullabies." But while "Precious" incorporates their established sound, it also takes some risks that the previous album didn't.

"Why do you care?/It's only money/Get out the bad undo your head think about what you say/Kill the band," vocalist Jimmy Gnecco sings on "Kill The Band," the first of several tracks whose lyrics could be interpreted as dealing with the band's new found success. Throw backs, in sound, to the first album, "Kill The Band," and the rather catchy songs "Realize" ("Down on the floor with a radio song, you're crawling, you're crawling") and "Leaves" have an extra bit of edge. The tracks also tend to have a focus on Gnecco's vocals, as most of the songs do, that skillfully play with dynamics - raging, nearly screaming, one moment while then becoming a falsetto whimper before then sliding to a whisper.

Ours take a sharp turn for "In A Minute," opening with a fast riff that morphs into a ska sound for the hook. This unexpected shift, certainly a stand out, gets your attention. "Femme Fatale," a Velvet Underground cover done respectably, doesn't veer too far from the original but also creates a simple update by pulling the instruments more to the forefront and the vocals, not nearly as fragile sounding as Nico's. "I just fear one day we'll all lose sight of the things that we have in life/That money just can't buy," sings Gnecco in "Chapter 2 (Money)," helping to, maybe, explain the album title. "Disaster In A Halo," with its 50s-ish rhythm during the verses, turns away from the hope in "Chapter 2 (Money)" with the often repeated chorus of "nothing even matters." With closing song "Red Colored Stars," the song builds up momentum, in typical Ours fashion. The instruments, however, seem to have a bigger role, in some parts, than usual.

While there are a few songs that are nice but don't stand out, "Precious" is full of beautiful melodies, thought-provoking lyrics, plus some twists and turns. Ours have a well done follow-up that will undoubtedly keep people listening.