Monday, May 23, 2011

Pedals - Rival Schools


Rival Schools
Photo Finish Records.

SCQ Rating: 83%

On the cusp of May 2010, Spinner introduced me to a wicked little record called An Open Letter To the Scene by one Walter Schreifels. Its ten songs revolved around typical songwriter fare and traditional instrumentation yet there was no questioning Schreifels’ reserved charisma. Relaxed as it was, An Open Letter To the Scene was undoubtedly crafted by a persona that had lived a few rock and roll lives. Upon reading a few band-names that hovered around his, Gorilla Biscuits may have stood out as the most humorous but I really should’ve kept my eye on Rival Schools.

How serendipitous then, that on the cusp of the following May, my random Spinner search fell upon that same voice? Only this time Schreifels sounded bolder, surrounded by his Rival Schools band-mates – not to mention a lot of 90s aggression – for the first time in a decade. If you happened to miss United By Fate, the band’s debut and a pillar of post-hardcore love, don’t worry: Pedals doesn’t only pick up where that debut left off, it delivers precisely the same glow that Emo was feeling around the turn of the millennium.

Opener ‘Wring It Out’ clears the air appropriately, with Schreifels reflecting on life lessons learned while his band punches out deep riffs. Truthfully, the whole disc displays such a knack for memorable hooks and choruses that I can only point out highlights: ‘Eyes Wide Open’ veers ferociously toward the band’s hard-core roots but shares the same cathartic breakdown that ballads like ‘Racing To Red Lights’ and ‘Small Doses’ defend. The band’s never short on testosterone, firing on all cylinders over sharp-cutting tracks like ‘Shot After Shot’, but the heart of Pedals always seems to backtrack toward more affecting, personal material.

This record begs the difficult task of distinguishing what’s salvageable from emo and post-hardcore here in 2011, what really separates them at all. Because, inevitably, Pedals marries the two subgenres so convincingly, you’ll be willing to forget all of the emo travesties of the past decade. Rival Schools have picked up right where they left off, offering ten great reasons to rejoin a movement before it went spectacularly off the rails.

Wring It Out - Rival Schools by Photo Finish Records

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