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Sometime in the early- to mid-'90s, emo separated from its hardcore. Since then, however, the genre has, for the most part, consisted of pop punksters whose only connection to the Rites of Spring was getting worked up on a Green Day. If emo only meant getting worked up, '90s emo bands were definitely doing that. But along comes (for the most part) confessionally acoustic Pedro the Lion, and suddenly, stripped of anything resembling complex arrangements, emo is about working toward a goal, about perseverance and the emotional baggage that comes with doubting whether you'll reach that goal.

No coward, but no conqueror, Pedro the Lion's David Bazan has a tone that recalls, at times, Evan Dando, Ben Lee and lo-fi electronica rawkers Grandaddy. On the faster songs that feature full instrumentation, such as "Simple Economics," Bazan even sounds slightly like labelmate Davey vonBohlen of Promise Ring. But Bazan's voice is unique in its singular mission to contemplate faith, in Bazan's naked ambition to succeed in following the straight and narrow path, openly reflected in song titles such as "Slow and Steady Wins the Race," "Eye on the Finish Line" and the title track "Winners Never Quit." And that determination succeeds in making Pedro The Lion one of the most emotional bands in the genre.

Pedro the Lion performs at the Echo Lounge Thursday, April 13.

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