RVIVR – Dirty Water EP

RVIVR - Dirty Water coverIf it seems like just a few weeks have passed since I reviewed a record from an ex-Latterman outfit, that’s mainly because it was. And like Iron Chic, RVIVR are generating pop-punk tunes that are fun, catchy and warm… although lyrically RVIVR are more upbeat than the scathing outsider poetry of their counterparts.

I was lucky enough to catch RVIVR on one night of their UK tour a few weeks ago (and still hope to post a short review here) and although I’d not listened to them much – and was feeling dog tired – I was impressed by their energy, their obvious down-to-earth vibe and between-song banter, and of course their songs. I wished I’d known the latter well enough to sing along a little, particularly to the tune with the intro that reminded me of Leatherface.

(These days almost everything reminds me of Leatherface in a roundabout way. Even I’m getting a bit sick of referencing them in reviews. On the other hand their influence on the US melodic punk scene via Hot Water Music, Jawbreaker et al is well-documented. Anyway, I’m supposed to be writing about RVIVR, not fellating Frankie Stubbs.)

The Dirty Water EP boasts 5 tracks. I wish I could say I recognised some of them from that show, but I can’t – blame booze and brain. Fortunately everything on offer here is a keeper. My favourite’s the closer, ‘Resilient Basterd’, which I’ve just learned is a Shellshag cover. Well, fuck. Definitely prefer RVIVR’s pacier version, though.

First track ‘Seethin’ highlights some of RVIVR’s immediate strengths, namely pacey and melodic punk rock with simple, hooky work from the band’s strings, and toe-tapping choruses blending simple chords with simple licks to highlight catchy vocal lines and fist-in-the-air singalong segments. The dual singers work well together, their lines weaving in and out in a very relaxed fashion. ‘Tallest Tree’ pulls the pace back a bit, with sparse and tight verses emphasising how well the band’s members work together (of course, pulling that off live is the real test).

‘Tiny Murders’ opens with the female vocalist, whose style I prefer a little to the male singer (she reminds me of a grittier, more aggressive Lemuria). It’s a bit more of a playful tune, throwing discordance and feedback into an initially simple tune of varying pace, eventually building to a tumultuous crescendo made consistent only by distant gang vocals. As with its predecessors it’s a well-judged song, each instrument contributing just what is needed to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.

Then there’s ‘Had Enough (Of This Hell)’ which is back to the formula of the first couple of tunes – but it’s a welcome return, thanks to some great chord progressions, neat guitar work and more great vocal lines. It’s also a darker tune lyrically; I don’t have the words to hand, but from what I’ve made out it’s about dealing with the loss of a friend through music. Oh yeah, and this song also features the most prominent use of a brass section, something that fades in and out on occasion through the EP.

Not much need for a conclusion after all that positivity, is there? Check out this EP, or go and catch RVIVR live if you’re able. Apparently they’re really nice people too!

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