We have all heard the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” a saying that aptly could be used to describe the scene’s relationship with New York’s Rival Schools. A decade ago this post-hardcore outfit released United by Fate, an often overlooked and painfully underrated collection of songs that while well-received by critics, did not exactly put the band on the map the way it perhaps should have. Regardless, you cannot rewrite history, so fast-forward to present day. After frontman Walter Schreifels’ decided to get the band back together, we have Pedals, just the sophomore release from this respected act.
While Pedals does lack a discernable crunch and though the brash swagger the band once possessed seems to have been replaced for the most part with a sense of maturity, Schreifels still knows what to do when a mic is in his grasp. His capacity to carry a hook via enjoyably strained vocals and his ability to create all things anthemic is undeniable.
But even though the album does present a number of tunes that will goad you into thinking that the Rival Schools of the past has indeed returned, songs that channel the bands past through a fiery, derisive aggressiveness (“Eyes Wide Open,” “Shot After Shot”), and while opener/lead single “Wring It Out” is not to be missed, it’s Pedals other offerings that drag the record into plodding mediocrity (“Racing to Red Lights,” “Small Doses”).
Pedals isn’t the Rival Schools of a decade ago, no, and by no means has the word senility entered this veteran group’s vocabulary, though it’s clear the band has lost a step along the way.