Sunday, 27 March 2011
Rival Schools - Pedals
It’s been almost a decade since Rival Schools’ last masterpiece, United By Fate, brought together a cult of post-punk mainstreamers to relish in choppy guitar encrusted velour. Frontman Walter Schreifels still retains the talent and ear for largely amiable melodies, with a new found conventional wisdom. However, the real question lies in whether this is still applicable for their fans from the late 90s and early 00s to listen to. I’m sure, by now, their post-punk hardcore hoodie-clad listeners are in their 30s and 40s, no longer into being experimental and ‘rock n’ roll’, but more into raising a family and listening to Radio 2.
Pedals clearly lacks the heaviness and potent distortion of United By Fate, yet this shouldn’t be something viewed as an immediate disadvantage. Deep heart-punching guitar riffs may be a prominent theme in ‘Wiring It Out’ and ‘Eyes Wide Open’, but it’s the slow gentleness and scintillating choruses that eventually prevail; so much to the extent that something like ‘Racing to Red Lights’ could be included in a love mix tape, meaningful lyrics of “you’re driving too fast / racing to red lights” melting the girl’s heart in the process.
Schreifels sounds exactly the same as he did almost ten years ago, grungy growls that grow into something endearing when reaching those high notes. “Love doesn’t know anything / only believes when it believes” he sings on ‘Shot After Shot’, so beautifully executed, conjuring up the image of an emotional Schreifels on his knees, singing his heart out. It seems that ‘Pedals’ carries with it a lot more heartfelt emotion and far less aggression, yet unharnessed drum and guitar accompaniments are what make it just as accessible to its original fans as to its new ones.
Despite the record’s brilliance, it’s back to the inevitable thought that it took them ten years to make it. Many things can happen in a decade; countries, people and genres can all be destroyed to mean no more than a pulp of shit on the side of the road. When Rival Schools emerged, they were fortunate enough to be at the forefront of emo and post-hardcore breaking its way into mainstream, yet commercially led groups such as Fightstar and The Rasmus seemed to triumph. Perhaps in 2011 it’s Rival Schools’ time to once again shine. Their tightly produced, guitar-shredding, euphoric alchemy of symphonies emit the same passion as you would have heard from them ten years ago and, so what if their re-union was an elaborate scheme to get more cash – it worked.
Was it worth the wait? Yes - even if you did grow a few grey hairs and a moustache in the process.
(written for thelineofbestfit.com)