Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
You know how Scott Howard didn't want to get up on the roof of the van in "Teen Wolf," but then finally, there was Michael J. Fox up on top, denting in the topper and riding the motorized wave and having a great ass time. Young Rival, the band from Hamilton, Ontario, drop us right down on that same van roof, making us feel as if we're coasting through town in the twilight light of a Friday night, having just scored some underage beer and ready for one of those nights that we're all entitled to as young people. We hear the songs on the band's debut full-length, "LP," as snippets of youth, the amplified beauty and frustration of it, the confliction and mystery of it. The album is a brilliant patchwork of druggy poetry and thrilling melodies that all come together to sound like a tribute to Kevin Barnes plays The Bryds. They are sophisticated songs for the times that are lived by feel and impulse, responding to the beat, the pulse and what calls out to us at the time. There is a luscious breeze slipping through the various elbows and curves of these songs as lead singer Aron D'Alesio makes a case as one of the most underappreciated young singers/writers out there. He and his bandmates explore the difficulties of relatively young life (not being able to get a job, growing old enough to believe that all things are shit, etc.) through the process of making these issues sound honey and cigarette smoke-tinged. They take us into the murky waters, but when we get there, where it's supposed to be a sad depiction, we find that the kids are alright and they're just messing around, splashing around, looking tanned and healthy-ish in their trunks and swimsuits, making the best out of it all. They're making art. They're singing. They're cooking together, building campfires. They're living decently even though they don't have two nickels to rub together. D'Alesio sings on "Modern Life," "Now, no one cares and I know why/There's nothing left of this modern life," giving us the lowdown. It doesn't feel like we should be worried about anything though because he seems to be singing it from the 1960s, providing something that we might recognize as a flashback, if we were old enough to have experienced those years. It's not really the end of anything. The end of good times has been called for since teenagers and rock and roll, teenagers and literature were first introduced to each other and it's good fun to get snotty about it - to call for the doomsday. It's good fun when such a statement comes associated with such splendid tunefulness. The delay of everything going completely to shit just means we can expect more of this.