Album #15: Criteria – Years

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  • Label: 15 Passenger
  • Best Track: We Are. We Are. We Aren’t.

For my 15th review, I’ve covered an album called Years, by a band that’s gone 15 years without releasing one, on a label called 15 Passenger – a coincidence that’s as accidental as it is boring. I really must find better ways to start these blogs.

Yet another album released last Friday, this is the third album in total from a band I’ve never heard before, but their first since 2005. Lead vocalist Steve Pedersen was formerly in Cursive, who I vaguely recall from the emo/post-hardcore explosion of the early 2000s, but that’s about the limit of my knowledge.

Any dabbling in emo seems to be in the past, but this definitely feels like a post-hardcore record to me. The guitars chug rather than thrash, and Pedersen’s vocals remind me somewhat of Walter Schreifels of Quicksand and Rival Schools – punchy and consistent rather than rangeful.

I enjoyed bits of this album, especially the math-rocky ‘We Are. We Are. We Aren’t’ with the shout-along incantation of its title. I love how the choruses kick in on ‘This Reign is Ours’ and opening track ‘Agitate Resuscitate’ as well. As it goes on though, it starts to sound a tad monotonous. One or two of the lyrics are a bit iffy too (‘There’s no defending an answer when it leads to cancer’).

Criteria are a band I could imagine releasing something I really like, but Years isn’t quite it. There are shades of Glassjaw and Quicksand on the record, but with neither the heaviness of the former nor the intensity of the later, it has a ‘nearly, but not quite’ feel from start to finish.

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