After spending much of the last decade doing other things, the post-punk tunesmiths in Rival Schools seem hellbent on making up for lost time. Almost 10 years after the release of 2001’s United By Fate, the band resurfaced with a formal follow up in 2011’s Pedals, but that still left a healthy amount of dead space to account for. Enter Found, the band’s proper sophomore effort that was shelved after its 2003 breakup. But even as it arrives out of sequence, the record still manages to snugly fit the No. 2 slot in the Rival Schools catalog, refining the post-hardcore pretenses of the band’s debut while subtly hinting at the more melodic path it would begin to take.
That said, the steps taken outside of the band’s musical safe place are ginger at best. At its core, Rival Schools is a band of dyed-in-the-wool New York hardcore vets, and that streetwise pedigree still defines much of what Found has to offer. The guitar lines on “Reaching Out” quiver with Fugazi-like intensity, while the song’s low-register breakdown still carries the urgency of frontman Walter Schreifels’ Quicksand days. The same can be said for the likes of “Paranoid Detectives” and “Indisposable Heroes,” which are equally fraught with punk urgency even as Schreifels attempts to veer more toward the pop side of the spectrum. When he does manage to counterbalance the record’s sonic strife with sentiment on songs like “Tell It All To Me,” it exposes a more dexterous and nuanced side of the band beginning to blossom.
The band unearths more than a few quality songs on Found, but when put in context it’s hard not to see the record as a little past due. Instead of capturing who Rival Schools are in 2013, the band’s latest reflects where it’s already been. That caveat aside, it still has a worthwhile part to play in the band’s odd career trajectory, even if its time has come and gone.