Rival Schools, 'Pedals' (Photo Finish/Atlantic)

Critical Mass
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Label: Photo Finish/Atlantic

by Doug Brod

In the ten years since Rival Schools' underappreciated debut, United by Fate, main man Walter Schreifels has been busy starting new bands (including the magnificent Walking Concert), reuniting with his NYHC posse Gorilla Biscuits, producing others, and releasing a solo album. While this comeback attempt lacks the brash, anthemic crunch of their grunge-U2 debut, it does display the same knack for twisty, melodic tunes girded by knotty guitars and Schreifels' likably straining vocals. From squealing lite-psych nuggets ("Shot After Shot") to earnest but not gooey heart-tuggers ("Small Doses"), Pedals reveals a group of reenergized vets who've hardly mellowed with encroaching middle age.

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