Rites of Spring bridged two eras of Washington, D.C.'s seminal punk label Dischord, drawing fire and passion from the preceding Minor Threat and Scream period and pointing the way to the Embrace and One Last Wish sound, and All Through a Life, the second of their two releases, brilliantly encapsulates the elements of the latter period. Replacing howling guitars with ones that have a little chime between their teeth, there is a distinct (but carefully buried) nod to the Beatles' mid-period in songs like "Hidden Wheel." "I'm looking back/and in looking back/I hope to get beyond," singer Guy Picciotto declares in the title track, which features the band's mixture of cathartic D.C. punk and swirling melody (which includes some piano), and leads off this four-song EP that is easily on par with their bracing, hardcore-tinged debut album. Drummer Brendan Canty (who, like Picciotto, went on to play in Fugazi) and bassist Michael Fellows come into their own here with remarkably nimble rhythms and deft touches, while guitarist Eddie Janney is the band's secret weapon: his deep knowledge of both punk records and pop history leaks into every chord change. Absolutely bracing. For easy historical consumption, Dischord has combined both Rites of Spring records on one absolutely essential CD. It's also worth noting that the members of Rites of Spring did something highly unusual after the end of this group, as the same four players went on to play under two different names: the more overtly pop One Last Wish and the mind-blowing, springs-sprung post-post hardcore of Happy Go Licky, a group that took the D.C. sound as far into space as it has ever been. Both groups issued posthumous collections that are well worth investigating.
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AllMusic Review by Patrick Foster