Criteria - When We Break (Cover Artwork)


Criteria: When We BreakWhen We Break (2005)
Saddle Creek Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There's some pretty easy bait surrounding Criteria. It's roughly Stephen Pedersen's fourth musical effort (his initial outfit the White Octave put out two full-lengths before "calling it quits" more or less) since his alma mater Cursive reformed without him, and a case could certainly be made that h.
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There's some pretty easy bait surrounding Criteria. It's roughly Stephen Pedersen's fourth musical effort (his initial outfit the White Octave put out two full-lengths before "calling it quits" more or less) since his alma mater Cursive reformed without him, and a case could certainly be made that he's still somewhat bitter about the whole situation, as hinted rather bluntly by the chorus of When We Break's first song and lead single, "Prevent The World:" "You're preventing a world / from hearing my songs." While mention is necessary, dwelling on this topic too much is a surefire recipe for pity stew, and also one that would overlook both the stunning improvements and glaring faults of Criteria's sophomore full-length / debut for the unsurprising new grounds of Saddle Creek Records.

The band had certainly established a still small-known reputation on their (his?) debut En Garde for writing infectious, intelligent rock songs with, like fellow Omahaians Desaparecidos, a strong influence from Weezer's Pinkerton running through it, but adding even larger rock riffs and a greater number of one-man anthems. While I certainly wasn't as overwhelmed by the album as others, I couldn't help but at least be captivated a fair deal by the honest to goodness rock brought. The roll hardly accompanies, but it's a healthy delivery regardless.

Without a doubt, my favorite moment from EG was the soul-baring climax -- as well as the great buildup to it -- in "This Life," with Pedersen's "renew" line unrelenting and perversely emotional, and it's disappointing that we don't see him bring that same kind of peaking fervor at any given on point on When We Break. Why this musical vacancy exists is hard to say, since lyrically we're still watching the singer/guitarist hover above the aforementioned awkward area. And sure, it's great to hear upbeat tracks like prime standout "Prevent The World" juxtapose Pedersen's slyly cynical disposition with the song's general vibe, but to hear it musically, if only once, would've been quite the replicated treat.

"Draped In The Blood" kicks off with Pedersen's signature vocal effect and the rhythmically muttered lines "safe / draped in the blood / I don't deserve / pedigree lies / they insinuate truth," and it's an inflection I'd imagine fans of Say Anything would appreciate musically and lyrically. It's this song as well as "Prevent The World" that proves Criteria is even catchier than proved to be on En Garde, with choruses as big as ever and hooks aplenty. As strong as these tracks are, the second half approaches with lesser highlights and shows that En Garde isn't as solid as some would like, suffering a bit from an uneven quality with the band eventually slipping into recycled riff territory (i.e. track 9, "Ride The Snake," steals from the pre-chorus parts of track 3, "Good Luck," rather haplessly).

When We Break may not provide a full, 100% set of greatness, but if fans of the band's first effort can deal with an inconsistency in the LP they'll be sure to find an album full of traits greatly refined for this turn at bat.

Prevent The World

Prevent The World


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (April 18, 2006)


Anonymous (November 20, 2005)

I bought this CD after seeing Cursive tear it up in Santa Cruz with Headphones in October. I was hanging out with Dave Bazanat a bar through the first band and then we went back for him to follow Cursive, who were just tearing it up. I bought 'When We Break' and it's been in steady rotation in my car as I drive all over the Bay Area, and since it's not the longest CD, it hear it all like 5 time in a day...

Good stuff.

Matt Young of The Tricycle Wipeout

Anonymous (September 1, 2005)

okkk. i guess i'll buy it. (after 40 minutes of deliberation.) i don't know why i'm so attached to this 11 dollars.
i anticipate good, at least. not fantasmicosity.

Anonymous (September 1, 2005)

When We Break is incredible, particularly Ride the Snake. The reviewer needs some help.

En Garde was incredible. I don't know which I like better, probably En Garde just because of Play on Words.

And Stephen, I was at the CD release for When We Break and it was me who was screaming at you to play Play on Words the whole night. Sorry bout that, but playing it last definitely did it justice. Criteria fucking rules.

OverDefined (September 1, 2005)

I saw them live a couple years ago in a filthy little basement bar in Columbus, OH. It was balls out.

I love the new record too. The reviewer is very short-sighted.

Anonymous (August 25, 2005)

Prevent the World is about being stuck at a desk job and wanting to rock and about major labels promising the sky but offering dirt.

This comment alone made me go out and buy the album and it rocks. I love it so go buy it.

Inspection12e (August 25, 2005)

Criteria > Cursive

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

what if cursive broke up? *ejaculates*

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

What if Cursive became a 3 guitar band? *Ejaculates*

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

Hi, Stephen From Criteria here.
Prevent the World is wholly unrelated to cursive.
Love those guys. TOtally honored to have been in the band and am pleased as punch over their success/popularity/kickass songs.

Prevent the World is about being stuck at a desk job and wanting to rock and about major labels promising the sky but offering dirt.

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

Props for the esq. rock.

inagreendase (August 23, 2005)

Thanks Stephen. Now tell your press company to include lyric inserts, please!

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

i'm listening to this record right now. i'm not as familiar as i am with en garde, but i'm almost there. i can't really decided between the two. i'd like to see this band play live, does anyone know if they tour?

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

Do you really think the lyrics "You're preventing a world / from hearing my songs." is directed at cursive? he was in cursive 8 years ago. i dunno, seems along time to be harboring ill will. maybe it was directed at the daily grind of working at a law office or reviewers like you for that matter.

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

Hi, Brian.
This is Stephen Pedersen from Criteria.
My last name is spelled "Pedersen"
and the lyrics for draped in the blood are "Safe, draped in the blood, I don't deserve. Pedigree lies. They insinuate truth."

colin (August 23, 2005)

one of the best rock albums of recent memory. such an amazing sophomore release. congrats

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

Hmm... why does this seem more like a review of the other criteria album...

Anyway, I think this CD is better than En Garde. A great improvement over a solid (but overrated) album.

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

i like their first. this is better. and im expecting even more from their next.

Anonymous (August 23, 2005)

I think I liked Cursive more when this guy was in it. Tides Rush In, Retirement, and the Rhyme Scheme are fuckin undeniable.

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