Album Review: Rival Summers – Undeniable

I’ve been patiently awaiting the arrival of Rival Summers’ new album ever since seeing them play Fusion Shows’ Eighth Birthday Show back in January. Although it’s felt like a long wait their new album couldn’t have come at a better time. The last few months have been rough ones making it hard to stay positive most days. Rival Summers’ signature upbeat pop sound is something that can make you feel all warm and fuzzy regardless of whatever darkness you might be fighting through. Plus, the summery vibes make it easy to overlook the snow flying in mid-April and dream of warm, summer days.

What I enjoyed most about seeing Rival Summers’ live show was the amount of emotion and passion that Leo Bautista and Sam Ridgell poured into their set. It’s hard to not get swept up in a concert when the band performing for you is putting everything they have into their show. It was clear right from the opening notes of Undeniable that that is how Bautista and Ridgell approach songwriting as well. The duo hasn’t put out a full length album since 2012 and to say that they’ve grown musically feels like an understatement. Undeniable is a fully formed album layered with sunshine pop that will have you up and dancing in no time.

The album opens with the bright pianos and beat of the title track which immediately lets you know what you should expect from the rest of the album. “Undeniable” is about ignoring everyone around you when they tell you something is impossible and following your dreams. The description sounds a bit hokey, but much like he did when I saw him live, Bautista lyrics are so genuine that it’s hard not to believe every word he sings. That paired with catchy hooks and a poptastic chorus make the track quite irresistible.

My favorite track on the album might just have to be “All About It.” It could be that the opening reminds me a bit of my favorite Bad Suns’ track, “We Move Like the Ocean,” or maybe just because I’m longing for some summer sun and warmth. The beachy guitars mixed and catchy chorus make this track an instant pop hit that should be featured on any soundtrack to the summer of 2016. If you haven’t already heard the album’s first single, “Stay,” on repeat since it was released you will after you hear it now. What will always stick out in my mind about this track is the sheer excitement that filled the air when the guys performed it the night they released it. It’s another instant pop classic that should be filling the radio waves this summer.

I think what truly attracts me to this album is the pop vibe that reminds me so much of my teenage years mixed with the rock vibes of bands like Copeland and WALK THE MOON, thus bringing together my musical past and present creating a sense of nostalgia even on the first listen. What’s truly admirable is the sheer amount of growth Baustia and Ridgell show on this release and although I don’t really want to wait another four years before getting another Rival Summers’ album, I’m excited to think about what the guys could accomplish in that time.

Pick up Undeniable on Amazon, Bandcamp, Google, or iTunes and if you can, make sure to get out to the album release show at The Warehouse Venue in Marine City on April 23.