Album review by firstname.lastname@example.org
By the sound of it, it's been a busy time for Oxford quartet Secret Rivals since we last heard from them a year ago. They've got a foot on the rungs of the festival ladder (Wychwood, Bestival, Liverpool Sound City) and completed a successful Pledge campaign to provide funds for the recording of their album 'Just Fall'. So everything's looking rosy at the moment, and their fans have converted their faith in the band into pre-release donations to make sure they get their set properly laid down on tape and released to the public. Now comes the bit where we find out whether that faith was justified.
Suspense doesn't really work in a music review, so we'll cut to the chase and say that they have indeed been correct in trusting Secret Rivals to deliver the goods. 'Just Fall' is full of lively, angular, sharp indie tracks with boy/girl vocals that are best described as a more meaty Los Campesinos!, and this is best exemplified on the superb 'Once More With Heart', a surefire fan favourite, it's like a fizz-bomb of energy being released. Not everything is so full of vitality, but most is. 'Panic/Don't Panic', the excellent 'Everything I've Lost' and 'These Are Only Obstacles' all follow suit. When they do divert it's not by much. Opening track 'This Tragedy Writes Itself' is still pacy, but as an opener it seems odd they didn't pick one of the tunes with a more instant and bigger impact, although it does contain lyrics that point towards the beginning, or maybe the changing of something, which may explain the choice. You could say it's the (relative) calm before the storm.
It's followed by the mid-paced 'Half Hearted', so things don't really set alight until the third tune. That said, it's one of the more anthemic and better tracks here. Standout 'I Know Something' is brilliant; everything good about the band in one snappy, anthemic, melodic and gritty guitar-pop song. Another potential anthem is 'I Hope She Knows', a track to get you through those difficult moments in life, and one with some stellar guitar work. Final track 'Just Fall' is the most reflective here and also the most simple, consisting of guitar and vocals, you could say it's a typical album closer (the other option being the epic last track of course). But this works fine. Secret Rivals may get criticised in some corners for sounding a bit like a lot of the guitar bands that were in fashion five or six years ago, but that should be no reason to put you off. 'Just Fall' sounds fresh, it sounds vibrant and colourful, and most of all it feels like the work of a band with a genuine passion for what they're doing, and that's something you can't simply manufacture.
Secret Rivals' website
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