Dave Smalley's previous experience with melodic punkers All serves him well on Down By Law's debut, which often incorporates tunefulness without sacrificing intensity; the vocal harmonies of "Dreams Away" and the dreamy delay effects of "Vision" don't undermine those songs, but make them a bit deeper and more dimensional. Unfortunately, those techniques aren't applied consistently throughout the album, resulting in a lack of cohesion; at times Down By Law sounds like one of the many Bad Religion clones ("The Truth"), while at others they sound like hard rock hacks ("American Dream"). But when Down By Law finds the right balance of aggression and melody, as on gems like the Descendents-esque "Best Friends," the band shows great potential.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Hinds