ALBUM REVIEW: Rivals – Sad Looks Pretty On Me

Release Date: March 19th 2021
Label: Smartpunk Records


The sophomore album is always a tricky one to get right, particularly when the world has been turned on its head. How does an artist gauge listeners’ reaction to new music when there’s no live crowds to feed off of or no fans to meet outside the venue? Rivals have found themselves in that exact position with their second album, ‘Sad Looks Pretty On Me’.

With their gigantic riffs and feisty choruses underpinned by dark, enigmatic pop, Rivals bring a fresh perspective to the pop-rock/alt rock template. It’s rock music for a new generation, with each track being perfectly at home in the charts and the mosh pits. From the opening title-track, Rivals show that they can easily compete with their peers, harnessing the sensual synth-rock of PVRIS and the intriguing vocal tonality of Vukovi to create a fresh, current sound. It’s exciting from the very first minute.

From ‘Alkaline’, which sounds like some sort of Dua Lipa meets The Word Alive remix, to the fun, frivolous bubblegum pop of ‘Strawberries’, Rivals really bring a refreshing pop twist to alternative music.

But that doesn’t mean that they’re afraid to get their hands dirty; from the creepy gothic atmosphere of ‘Fake Rich’, featuring a guest spot from Cane Hill frontman Elijah Witt, to the gutsy guitar in ‘Little Mistakes’, there’s an undeniable underground feel to this full-length that keeps it very much rooted in authenticity throughout its runtime.

Yes, indeed, the sophomore album is a tricky one to get right, but it’s not impossible. Rivals prove that with ‘Sad Looks Pretty On Me’, and not doubt sets them up for legions of fans and opportunities to follow.