FY!QM Reviews-RVIVR’s The Beauty Between
I’m going to get right down to it: RVIVR is the shit. And their new album, The Beauty Between, is their best material yet. The year is still young, but this record is likely going to be one of the best of 2013.
These guys are pretty divisive in the punk scene, and by that I mean the cis-het white dudes that tend to dominate these communities don’t really like it when RVIVR tells people to calm the fuck down at shows or to let short people up front so they can see, or for dudes to keep their shirts on. They’re unapologetic about their politics, and while they are not perfect, they’re a breath of fresh air in the realm of bands that get talked about on Punknews and Property of Zack. There are lots of awesome queer punk bands out there, but few have the fan base of RVIVR, which makes them, and this album, a pretty important thing for the modern punk scene.
The Beauty Between is not a revelation by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just 42 minutes of solid, fun, catchy punk with dual vocals, hooky solos, and a ton of drum rolls, so the songs always feel like they’re building towards something, whether it be a chorus, some gang vocals, or a solo. Or saxaphone (yes, saxaphone). The only real weak spot is the bass, which doesn’t punch through on most of the songs, and when it does, it’s mostly boring and the lack of any warmth in the tone just makes it sound like they direct lined it into Pro-Tools and never did anything with it. But that tends to be a problem with the genre as a whole, and it doesn’t detract from the fun of the album.
Three of the tracks are full band versions of songs found of vocalist/guitarist Erica Freas’s solo album that came out last year, Belly (which is available on her bandcamp as pay-what-you-want). It’s worth a listen to both versions of each, as they each have great things about them. However, “Spider Song” and “Rainspell” work better as full band songs. “Rainspell” in particular benefits from a tempo increase and vocals from Mattie Canino. “Paper Thin” is much more of an emotional gut punch as an acoustic track, but the RVIVR version has an phenomenal chorus that really showcases Freas’s awesome, interesting, and powerful voice.
Freas’s vocals are probably the best part of the whole album. Not that Canino is bad, he has a perfectly fine voice and a great yell when he needs it, but as a friend told me recently, “I’m sick of dude voices,” especially in punk. They’re everywhere and a lot of them tend to sound the same, so the tracks where Freas takes the lead are real stand outs.
Lyrically, RVIVR tends to stick with their usual themes of finding your place in the world, finding community, and trying to defend that against people that are trying to tear your shit down. And a lot of it is vague enough that it can be applied to a number of different situations, while still remaining powerful. They are relatable and can resonate on a personal level for a huge number of people without being horribly cheesy (they can be a bit cheesy, but in a way that just endears them to you even more).
tl;dr The Beauty Between is a great album, so get on that. It’s available as pay-what-you-want on Rumbletowne Records (along with all previous RVIVR material), and while there is no physical release yet, vinyl is planned for the spring/early summer, so be on the lookout.