Rival Schools – Found

FoundThe post-hardcore supergroup’s lost album is unearthed, filling in the decade-long gap between their punky debut and fuzzy indie follow-up.

Released Apr. 9th on Photo Finish Records

I was quite late to the game with post-hardcore supergroup Rival Schools. Their pedigree—Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Youth of Today, Civ, Iceburn—didn’t really mean anything to me, and I only picked up United by Fate, their critically-lauded 2001 debut, earlier this year. I got their second album, 2011’s Pedals, pretty soon after it came out, and it’s been a consistent favorite since. I was totally unaware that in the intervening decade the band had scrapped an album, broken up, and gotten back together.

As I now know, guitarist Ian Love left the band after United by Fate. They tried to replace him and spent a year working on a follow-up album, but their record label (Island) wasn’t impressed by what they heard and the band split in 2003. The 11 tracks they’d recorded leaked out on the internet and floated around there for a while, and the band got back together (with Love) in ’08 and eventually released Pedals, an album that had a decidedly more indie-rock feel to it than their punky debut. United by Fate resembled frontman Walter Schreifels’ previous band, Quicksand, while Pedals was fuzzier, more melodic, and subtler in its textures. Now that the band’s “lost” recordings have been properly released on Found, the creative path between their two full-lengths is better illuminated.

A couple of Found‘s tracks were reworked for Pedals: “Sofia Loren” eventually became “Shot After Shot”; it’s demonstrative of the stylistic shift the band made between records, as the early version here is punkier and more urgent but also a bit more meandering, lacking a chorus, and ends rather abruptly. It’s a rough sketch, while the final “Shot After Shot” version imbues it with a solid hook and structure that made it single-worthy. “Big Waves” saw similar tightening up: Here it’s a loose, dreamy affair; the eventual Pedals version sheds the spacey guitar intro (and nearly a minute of runtime) in favor of bigger drums and a shralping solo. Standout track “Paranoid Detectives” was stripped back slightly for inclusion as a bonus track on some editions of Pedals, getting an acoustic guitar intro and lead rather than the full-electric of the Found version.

Elsewhere, Found exhibits a very Fugazi-like influence on “Dreamlife Avenger”, “Reaching Out”, and the closing cover of the Buzzcocks’ “Why Can’t I Touch It?”, displaying that band’s knack for grooves and angular riffs. “Indisposable Heroes” builds a restrained tension in its verses that pays off with a big release in the chorus. More subdued tracks like “The Soft Skin”, “Tell It All to Me”, and “Missing Glider” bear traces of shoegaze, while “On the Fray” goes more for hooks.

Found isn’t as good as either of Rival Schools’ proper studio records, but it’s an interesting listen and could have properly followed United by Fate had it been released in the early ’00s. It’s curious that it’s taken 10 years to see a proper release, and even then only on vinyl and digital formats (and separately at that; the LP doesn’t include a download code). Perhaps this is the band’s way of keeping these tracks something of a rarity.

4/5

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