As of mid-2003, the Omaha, NE, indie rock scene had been red hot. Stephen Pedersen (ex-Cursive, ex-White Octave), who is no fool, forsook Duke University School of Law to return home to Omaha and record a new album under the name Criteria en Garde. At the time he recorded it, the band consisted of Pedersen and some local session guys; since then the lineup settled on Pedersen (guitar and vocals), Aaron Druery (guitar), AJ Mogis (bass), and Mike Sweeney (drums). Comparisons to Weezer and Quicksand are inevitable, but it's the Fall that Pedersen seems to be quoting in the bridge section of "It Happens," and the brief and chaotic "Talk in a Crowded Room" is pretty much sui generis. Much of what Pedersen's doing sounds suspiciously like self-indulgent noise (he's been quoted as saying that this album "is the closest I've come to painting," which is not a promising comment), but when you listen closely you'll catch the subtle complexities of "Play on Words" and "Thorn Sharp," and then you'll go back and listen to the rest of it harder, and you'll be glad you did. Recommended.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson