The Draft get 4 stars from!

After the departure of Chuck Ragan, his bandmates were determined to soldier on, but no longer under the Hot Water Music name. Wanting to make a clean break with the past, the remaining trio dubbed themselves the Draft, and with Brian Baker initially filling in the guitar gaps, went back to work. But it was only upon enlisting Todd Rockhill that all the pieces finally fell into place.

At the tail end of their time as Hot Water Music, the group had begun toying with more melody, but still that doesn't prepare listeners for just how drenched with it In a Million Pieces is. The set opener, "New Eyes Open," is positively hook-laden, with an absolutely exhilarating, anthemic chorus to boot. "Bordering" takes things even further, with chiming lead guitar juxtaposed against the song's jittery, edgy atmosphere, while "Not What I Wanna Do" boasts rich vocal harmonies, fabulous swooping guitars, and a rhythm that steam rolls right over the grooves. And then there's "All We Can Count On," a slower, weightier number, with slightly blurred guitars, a fist in the air, singalong chorus, and a tinkling xylophone — yep — a xylophone. But the Draft haven't been totally sheared of their hardcore soul: "Lo Zee Rose" is tough as they come, with an anthemic shout-along chorus, while "Let It Go" also bristles with anger, but in a raw, melodic ska-core mode. Both "The Tide Is Out" and "Wired" contain some shreds of the past, the former almost stadium-sized, with a sound big enough to shake houses in the next town, hard rock slamming headfirst into hardcore, the latter stomping with fury. But it's songs like "Alive or Dead," that portend the band's real future, sizzling with energy, harmonic guitars, and a melody that will knock your socks off; it represents Draft in all its new glory.

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