[16 July 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Rival Boys is a Toronto, Canada-based trio consisting of brother and sister Graeme and Lee Rose, along with drummer Sam Sholdice. And the sound of their sophomore LP, Animal Instincts, which follows the release of an EP, Ice Storm, earlier this year, as well as a 2011 record called Mutual Feelings of Love, is minimal at best. There are songs with just guitar, drums and vocals, or just bass, drums and vocals. Still, Animal Instincts is an intoxicating blend of indie rock, buoyed by a fairly faithful cover of Wolf Parade’s “I’ll Believe in Anything”, just with the added touch of a violin, and it catches the ear. Another highlight is the violin led “Young and Old”, which has such a hooky, sweet and heart-wrenching sound, it’s the kind of thing you might throw on a mix CD if you are a boy looking to impress a girl.
The minimalist sound sometimes works against the band—you want to hear more punch and heft to some of this material. Still, Animal Instincts is an enjoyable affair, and grows on you with repeated listens. The mostly female led vocals by Lee Rose drip with delectable syrupiness, and are simply the sugar on top of the Rice Krispies. That is to say that Animal Instincts is a real treat in its best moments, and you’ll hope that the band adds a bit more force to its music from here on in.