It’s weird to think that 2003 was already 10 years ago. Pop punk was still riding the waves of mainstream popularity, “indie” still stood for independent music and post-punk supergroup Rival Schools recorded their sophomore album. And then they broke up, and though a few tracks were leaked within budding online music sharing communities, the album was shelved and that was that.
But they got back together, recorded and released Pedals in 2011, and finally, a decade after its recording, put out their true second album, Found.
Listening to Found is a bit like a musical time capsule, a blast from the (albeit relatively recent) past. It’s rough and gritty, as any proper post-punk album of the time, instruments and vocals crashing into each other to create a discord that almost doesn’t quite come together but somehow manages to hold its own. Sounding a bit like Gang of Four and a tad like the less-sexy brother of Q And Not U, with vocalist Walter Schreifels’ coarse vocals sing-shouting on top like a less gifted Chris Cornell (or a slightly more nasally Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale), Rival Schools land somewhere in that almost uncomfortable space between high energy and laid back in which post-punk seems to dwell.
Found is somewhat of a grower – an impenetrable and unrelatable din on the first listen or three, after a few times through it begins to shine. “Reaching Out” has arguably the strongest chorus of the album, Schreifel crooning “My mind’s been open way too long / who knows what thoughts might slip inside?”, though followers “Indisposable Heroes” and “Paranoid Detectives” are certainly stand-outs as well. The album lags a bit through the middle, “Tell It All To Me” being largely disappointing, but things pick back up with “Big Waves,” followed by the particularly hard-driving “Sofia Loren.” Found finishes with a cover of the Buzzcocks “Why Can’t I Touch It” that is every bit as fun as the original.
Ultimately, the album is in a weird spot – compared to contemporary alternative acts, Found stands out as too dated to be current but not quite old enough to be nostalgic. And though it would’ve fit much better into the musical climate from whence it was recorded, it’s that out-of-placeness that works so perfectly for it, simultaneously refreshing and comfortably familiar.