Criteria – album review

 

Criteria – When we break (Saddle Creek)

 

For the past five years, the term ‘emo’ has been used, abused and generally tossed about so much that even those who knew what it originally stood for have now only a faintest inkling.  In the UK, the genre attained mainstream status when, in 2003, the NME attempted to predict which emo second-wave bands would ‘make it big’.  But like any over-exposed concept – reality TV, Fairtrade, 5-a-day fruit and veg – the inevitable backlash ensues.  It now seems to be little more than a term of abuse thrown by self-proclaimed fashionistas at 15-year old boys wearing skinny jeans and eyeliner. 

 

This is the point where Criteria should be hailed as giving ‘emo’ back to music:  Singer Stephen Pedersen was in The White Octave, who were undoubtedly emo at a time when the word wasn’t a dirty one.  But it’s all too clear that this band don’t give two pain-tinged brown owl hoots about a ‘scene’; they only care about passionately playing music.

 

From the outset this is evident.  The album launches with ‘Prevent the world’, a torrential, driving anthem dripping with the rousing riffery and searing harmonised vocals of the type to send shivers, whilst final track Connections succeeds in being both epic and frenzied.  No label or phrase does justice to their sound.  And it never, ever should.

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