Rivals are a dark Pop-Rock quartet from LA, CA. Driven By vocalist Kalie Wolfe’s powerhouse vocals and the band’s infectious yet raw sound, RIVALS are fuelled bu powerful and energetic songwriting, brining aforth a type of fearlessness in their music that stands out among the rest. Their second record ‘Sad Looks Pretty On Me’ marks a huge turning point in their life as a band going for huge hooks as well as crushing vocals and stunning soundscapes, the record could just very well be the turning point for them and when live shows return, things will go off!
Opening with the title track of the record, this is a very good start. The mix of the genre the band is known for goes well (in terms of the Dark Pop-Rock) for this opener and you can hear the moulding sounds from genre to genre to blend into something of a fantastic soundscape that you’re not ready for. Shifting into ‘Laveners’, it’s chalk full of more larger than life sounding music to go along with the vocals which mix into things beautifully. It’s part technical and part harmonious, you can definitely hear some influence from Bring Me The Horizon in this which works so beautifully.
On ‘Alkaline’, the drums come into synchronisation so well and you can just imagine this in a live setting. This track does seem a little disjointed from the last two openers but there’s more in store for your ears. This pairs well with ‘Dead Flowers’, another beautifully written harmonious pick in this rich dark pop record. The record so far is sitting well and in terms of production is just vastly superior to their 2018 debut ‘Dammed Soul’. You can just tell they’ve really managed to turn things to 11.
Now we have come to one track which. lot of people might know. This is their track which features Elijah Witt of Cane Hill. This released back in 2020 and things get a lot heavier right now. It’s a a clear trajectory of how great this band and record are but when Elijah’s vocals come into play, it hits the roof in terms of how massive it is. Everything about the record is just elevated in terms of music, vocals and energy and takes it to new heights.
Moving down the record into ‘Little Mistakes’, this does manage to keep up the energy but in a more concentrated way. There’s a lot more tension and suspense in this track but the noise comes to a head in the final third to keep it at the level’s it’s surpassed. Next is the track ‘Strawberries’ definitely on the more pop spectrum on the record which is more mellow than any track that you’ll hear off it. It does get a little bit bouncy in places but doesn’t fit in with what they have done too much with this release.
Now switching things into a more melodramatic pick in ‘Change Things’, the record heads back into what really does work in a more guitar driven and synth driven influx but this track is just utterly infectious and fantastic. This is going to be an earworm in the future and you can hear why. This dives well into ‘On The Loose’ which flutters in-between that soft and more dark vibes of things which manages to flash in acoustic section towards the final third which is a welcomed addition to the track to serve as another track which is unmissable.
On the final few tracks of the record you have ‘Can Anybody Hear Me’ which gets things back to the central genre of the record and something more in line with the whole tone of what Rivals are trying to create. ‘To Dom’, another standout track off this record is a very sentimental sounding track off the record which you feel Kalie is singing straight to you. There’s something very personal about the track and you know it’s just unstoppable when you hear it. It’s probably the track that needs to be listened to the most off this release. Lastly there is ‘Why’ which is just more symphonic than anything the band has produced and anthem. They truly saved the best track for last.
Overall ‘Sad Looks Pretty On Me’, is something which you might look back on and listen to again and again but enjoy it just as much as you did the first time. There’s some real heart to what’s been produced for this record and some powerful influences have helped them shape what the record truly reflects upon to make Rivals one of the best artists coming out of the USA right now.
Check out ‘Sad Looks Pretty To Me’ below.