Rival Schools


Written by: PP on 20/09/2011 03:28:18

You guys remember Rival Schools? The post-hardcore / rock supergroup from a decade ago that featured members of Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, CIV, Youth Of Today and Iceburn? No? Well I can't blame you. They released exactly one album in 2001 called "United By Fate", a hugely successful and critically acclaimed record, but one that never received a follow-up despite a leaked master tape of 11 unreleased tracks a couple of years later. But then festivals around Europe started with the whole 'lets book reunion bands to play an exclusive' trend a couple of years ago, one of these being Rival Schools. I'm taking a shot in the dark here but it wouldn't be surprising that as a result of performing their classic songs together, the band realized they still had more to give, and here we are with "Pedals", a ten track album that's the first official studio material we've heard from the band in more than ten years.

"A reunion band? Meh, pass" might be what most of you youngsters are thinking, but the songwriting talent behind the band is undeniable. Supergroups often fail to meet the high expectations that surrounded them, but Walter Schreifels' projects never disappoint, of which "Pedals" is another fine example. For those not in the know, Rival Schools play an upbeat version of rock with a slightly hard edge to it reminiscent of the Quicksand days. There's a healthy dose of change-of-the-millennium post-hardcore / emo mashed in as well, so you have that Sunny Day Real Estate-esque optimism in the songs but executed using an anthemic rock platform that draws parallels to contemporary rock bands like Foo Fighters. One thing you'll notice straight away is how Rival Schools don't sound like any band in particular, mostly because their sound references an era long past in the music scene, where trends and fads hadn't yet infested the purity of the rock sound (read: the 90s). But that doesn't prevent songs like "Eyes Wide Open" falling into the super catchy category of rock songs, let alone "69 Guns", or the most post-hardcore-ish track on the album, "Wiring It Out", from adding in a flavor of aggression to the band's trademark anthemic rock.

Though there are a couple of weaker tracks on "Pedals", the album overall is dominated by strong and enjoyable content that impresses this scribe for being so good despite ten years of inactivity. The first half, in particular, is really good, containing the kind of stuff that made Foo Fighters the band they are today on their early records. It's a shame Rival Schools are mostly forgotten in 2011, because "Pedals" has the potential to elevate them into a serious, influential player, just like their debut "United By Fate" did ten years ago. Reunion bands shouldn't be able to sound this good, but "Pedals" does. One of the best straight-up rock / alternative records this year has to offer.


Download: 69 Guns, Eyes Wide Open, Shot After Shot, Big Waves
For the fans of: Quicksand, Guano Apes, older Foo Fighters, Sparta
Listen: Myspace

Release date 08.03.2011
Photo Finish / Atlantic Records

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