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Having missed this band their first time around, I am glad to have come across Criteria now. Years is the title of their first release after a fifteen year hiatus. The sound is a crisp and crunchy guitar based rock & roll, which falls into the post hardcore realm with [the good] elements of pop punk and emo (See “We are the Ones Who Make You So”). Stephen Pedersen spent some time in Cursive before departing and eventually forming Criteria. He sounds like a harsher Jeremy Enigk (like an alternative universe where he fronts Quicksand) especially on “This Reign is Ours.” Opener “Agitate Resuscitate” and a later track, “Tight Rope”, are hook-filled anthems. “The Saint” has some of the best lyrics of this set, We’ll travel through the muck and mire/ We cross this bridge together/ With a hardened smile/ I can’t imagine another way to go through life. “We Pretend” is a slower paced song but with a great chorus and melody. “We Are. We Are. We Aren’t” has staccato rhythm verses with a anthemic chorus, and layers build on top as the song progresses into a fabulous crescendo and highlights the tightness of the rhythm section. “Hands Out” is a nice blend of post hardcore, alt metal with some tasteful guitar noodling. This is a highly recommended album.
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