Recorded to analog tape with Mountain Smashers producer Dave Downham at Familyre Studios, Criteria begins with a blast of feedback, guitars riffing fuzzily, ringing out, and pick sliding with some twinkly bits thrown in. The title track features Pat Gartland's off kilter voice, sometimes terse sometimes warbly, intoning lines with a directness not audible in past recordings— “Just because I don't open my mouth as much you, doesn't mean that I'm down or out.” The chorus showcases By Surprises' penchant for layered vocals and a sensibility for sneaky melodies, hooks that catch up with you unexpectedly. The three song offering is familiar without treading old territory, masterfully embracing adulthood while conjuring a sense of youthful splendor; a glimmering self awareness swirling around every song.
Criteria was mastered by Carl Saff (Guided by Voices, Braid, Code Orange Kids) at Saff Mastering in Chicago, IL.
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