2018 is going to be the third year in a row Rival Bones will be featuring in both our overall Top 40 of the year as well as the Halfway 2 Nowhere unsigned/undiscovered Top 40, showcasing them to be one of the best rock bands operating in the UK at present. Last week they released their second EP Strangefruit and since the release, all I’ve seen is praise for the duo, but to be honest, we really wouldn’t expect anything else.
With the release of their debut EP last year, I did find myself thinking the band had perhaps reached their peak very early in their career – I mean, how much can a duo with a limited budget and production actually grow and expand? It turns out quite a lot, evidenced by the explosive start “Beautiful/Dangerous” brings to the EP. If there has ever been a song that sets the tone for an EP more, I’d challenge you to find it because the opening track isn’t just typical of the four tracks on the record but epitomises everything it means to be “Rival Bones”.
For 2 years now people have been drawing comparison, naturally, to the riffs and sound of Royal Blood, the most famous rock duo out there at present. Whilst at first we saw it, last year “Hives” topped their counterparts in our Top 40 and Beautiful/Dangerous excels Rival Bones to levels Royal Blood would struggle to recreate. The chorus is exquisite both musically and lyrically; it is executed on the live stage with fire and fuzz making it the perfect live set opener. I genuinely think the undiscovered duo from Liverpool are a better outfit and we promise this is the last time we will ever draw comparison between them as there is now such a gulf, it’s irrelevant to our critique.
The vocals of James Backhouse are the signature to all Rival Bones songs and track two, “Tie So Tight” sees the front man bring a new style to the picture. The song is much more atmospheric than we’re used to from the band and harks right back to their earlier tracks like “Lost Along The Way” (a H2N Top 40 entry). This particular track along with the following “Pull Me Under” wouldn’t be out of place on a Concrete and Gold (Foo Fighters) record such is the shift in style for the band.
Sticking with the tried and tested formula of heavy hitting, short tracks that leave nothing much to the imagination, the middle two tracks are perhaps a vision of where the band want to take themselves to really put their own, unique stamp on the industry and get away from these empty comparisons (okay we mentioned it again!). The harmonies and the power in “Pull Me Under” combined with the groovy riffs in “Tie So Tight” make the EP a sincerely special one.
Just when you think it can’t get any better, the two guys present the final track “Hot Blooded”; a hard-rock spectacular that digs right into the bands roots. At 3:28, the song is the longest on the EP but the most fast paced making it a great, easy listen. Oscillating from erratic guitars to controlled, driving drums, the closing track has aggression and distortion that is rarely heard within the upcoming music scene. A wonderful end to Strangefruit.
I do have one major concern with the band and it’s the simple fact that not enough people are going to hear this marvel of an EP. Too many bands make incredibly fine-tuned music and eventually, the lack of growth in a fan base and seemingly no improvement on streams and listens from single to single means they stop making music. I really, really hope this isn’t the case for Rival Bones because they are the only band out there right now, and this is the honest truth, that no matter when they release new music I get genuinely, over-excited to listen to it. In 2018 alone they’ve released “Scars” one of the best tracks this year, “The Great Divide” and now this EP and it’s frankly unjust that they’re not one of the UK’s biggest recording artists right now. 2019 has to be a big year for the duo and we hope we can be there on every step of this journey – Strangefruit is our EP of the year and we’re ready for whatever you’ve got next time round.