Published on April 11th, 2011 | by Aaron0
First Impressions: Rival Schools – Pedals
Rival Schools released their debut album United By Fate way back in 2001. I was 17 and in high school. I fell in love with Walter Schreifels’ raspy vocals and disjointed lyrics. I was lucky enough to see Rival Schools play at a music festival that year and they were suitably impressive. To prove my infatuation with the band at this point, here is a picture of the 17 year old me with Roger Manganelli of Less Than Jake. They played after Rival Schools on the same stage and were nice enough to come out to the crowd for some photos. Note the mud all over me and the Rival Schools t-shirt I’m wearing.
I’d still have that t-shirt too if I didn’t buy it one size too large. Back then I was still under the impression I would grow into clothing. Yeah, that never happened. I wouldn’t share such an embarrassing photo if I wasn’t serious about how much I liked them. So, of course, just to mess with my tiny young mind they split up a year later. Considering the band was not Schreifels’ first (not by a long shot) I chalked it up to a restless group of musicians and hoped to learn a lesson from it all.
And then, rumours circulated a couple of years ago that they were getting back together and I started to feel that teenage twitch of excitement. Could it be possible? Would it sound as good this time round? I’ve had ten years to listen to United By Fate and I have become very attached to it. Will they be able to live up to the pressure of keeping us on hold for so long?
Pedals, the second album from Rival Schools, was finally released last month. 10 years after their last album. I managed to get my hands on it this week and I can now finally sit down and play the album in full. While I listen to it for the first time I’m going to review it. As always I only have the time it takes for the song to play to write my thoughts on it. Lets see if 27 year old Aaron is still a fan.
1) Wring It Out
Big rich sound. Oh god, I’ve got goosebumps already. There is just something very… it’s hard to explain… but I basically want to shout along to this. United By Fate always had that effect on me and this is doing the same. Hopefully this keeps up.
2) 69 Guns
Schreifels is a bit like Paul Banks of Interpol in the sense that you would recognize his voice anywhere. He’s not the greatest singer in the world but there is also no-one else that sounds like him. His writing style is very distinctive too. Rarely do his lyrics rhyme and as sentences they’re barely formed. I like them for that very reason.
3) Eyes Wide Open
There is something slightly dated about this one. I think it has something to do with the bass on the heavier parts. Interesting to hear the keys in the background on some parts though.
4) Choose Your Adventure
Big dirty beat. Not really expecting that sort of sound. Something a bit different. Interesting, but I wouldn’t like an album full of it.
5) Racing To Red Lights
First slow song. Not bad but the chorus is repeated a few too many times for my liking and as a result the song just plods along without really taking you anywhere.
6) Shot After Shot
I love the break on this. More songs should have a break-down like this. Bring back breaks! Few rock bands do them anymore or do them right.
7) A Part For B Actors
I like the drumming on this. It could have been just a slow song but the choice to have such a fast rhythm on the drums really adds a lot. I like this one.
8) Big Waves
Probably a bit of filler if I’m honest. But it picks up towards the end. Nothing special.
9) Small Doses
Another one I’m not crazy about. I think this album is starting to lose it’s momentum a little towards the end here. The energy has dropped and my attention is going a little with it. And something about the phrase “small doses everyone” is bugging the hell out of me.
10) The Ghost Is Out There
Here we go, back to the dirty beats at the start of the song but, wait, then it turns into a light airy number. And back again. Well, this is more interesting at least. The last couple just rolled along so I’m happy to hear something with more to it. Yeah, a good way to end things.
If I’m honest I only loved about a third of it, liked another third and couldn’t care less about the last fraction. That’s not a bad reaction as few albums in the last year or so have gotten a better a reaction from me.
I look forward to listening to this album again and to hopefully catch some of it live at some point in the future because I think a lot of it will work better on stage. A positive experience but not a 5 star album which, when you wait 10 years for it, is a bit of a let down.