RIVALS DISCUSS SOPHOMORE ALBUM "SAD LOOKS PRETTY ON ME"
WRITTEN BY: MEG
In 2018, RIVALS took the scene by storm with the release of their debut album, “Damned Soul.” The California-based band has seen copious amounts of success over the course of the last three years, and they’ve spent the first few months of 2021 preparing for the release of their long-awaited sophomore LP, “Sad Looks Pretty On Me.”
“They were honestly pretty similar in a way,” vocalist Kalie Wolfe says when comparing the writing process from their first album to that of this release, “We still worked with John Espy and Cody Stewart but we added a few names for this one - Kevin Thrasher and Michael Montoya - who did a great job! I’ll say, too, we were much younger when we wrote ‘Damned Soul’ so it was so nice to write something with a more adult approach. We not only understand ourselves more but the writing process as a whole. We know what we like and we know when to try something weird, as well as new. We honestly really tried to step outside our box for this album; we wanted the songs to be all over the place genre-wise. We not even for a second regret mixing up the genre realm a bit and we’ll probably do that again. Maybe we’ll write a sick Polka song next!”
RIVALS draws influence from a variety of different styles and subgenres of music, and “Sad Looks Pretty On Me” shows the band experimenting with all of that.
“I mean, we’re still RIVALS, no matter what we do. I’m a girl who loves pop surrounded by a bunch of dope guys who love heavy metal. We wrote what felt best, what felt right for our hearts, we wrote what WE love. It’s a mix of pop, metal, some cool rap influences, a sprinkle of everything in between. To name a few influences we had Miley Cyrus, BENEE, Lil Peep, Bring Me The Horizon, Imagine Dragons, 30 Seconds To Mars, The 1975, are just a few artists we referenced for this album and that we all love!” Kalie explains about the sound of this new record, “The biggest thing we learned [from making “Damned Soul”] was that we make music because WE love it, people enjoying it also is just a bonus to us. That’s how we ended up with an album that has such different songs, genre-wise. We realized that at the end of the day, I’m the one who has to not only listen to these songs pretty much every day for who knows how long, I have to perform them. If I don’t like a song, I don’t like performing it and I think that shows to crowds also. Like they can see through my soul when I obviously don’t love a song. I’m probably totally overthinking that but that’s how I feel haha. So to anyone who likes our music, thank you for accepting our changes and growth, y’all are the best!.”
“Strawberries” hinted at this experimentation prior to the record’s release, giving listeners a glimpse at the poppier influences that the band was incorporating into the rest of the record.
“For some reason, we had a moment where we just wanted to write a few songs that were off the wall, that’s why we have On The Loose, Strawberries, and Fake Rich, all of which sort of bend our genre a bit but are still true to us, at least I think so. We hit this moment of wanting to write something super poppy, like out of our norm, 1975 type song, Micket and John wrote the instrumental and I hopped into the studio and we honestly wrote the base of the song in a day. It was quick, which usually means that it was musical right, like when it happens fast you know that it was probably a good song. We sat on Strawberries for over a year and it still stayed as my favorite song on the record.”
"I HOPE THAT THE RECORD LETS YOU LET THINGS GO AND SEE THE BEAUTY THE WORLD HAS TO OFFER."
Regarding the lyrics, mental health is a prominent topic found on the record. The album’s lead single and title track “Sad Looks Pretty On Me” sparked that discussion early on, and “Strawberries” followed suit and continued that conversation.
“It was also the first time I talked about my teenage/early 20’s years issues of drugs and alcohol, I wrote half of Damned Soul drunk out of my mind. Something I’ve never actually said till this interview I guess, something I wanted to forget. I needed a way of letting go of who I was and accept who I am today, that the drugs and alcohol of my past are what made me who I am. Hopefully who I am today is enough and is better, that’s all I ask for,” Kalie reveals about the lyrics, “I didn’t realize it at first but as I listen to these songs, as I grow with them and start to take the time to really truly understand what I wrote about. I see that the overarching theme of the album is, accepting sadness and finally being okay with it, content in it, and in a way, finding happiness inside of that. When I wrote Damned Soul, I was in a VERY dark place, like a suicidal dark place, that’s how Moonlit came to be. Sad Looks Pretty On Me was my way of letting go of that and realizing the beauty life has regardless of my sadness. It took a lot of time and mental turmoil to get to that point, to be honest, but I’m happy and proud of myself for getting there.”
Now, the album is finally out in the world , and the band hopes it touches their fans and listeners and helps them in whatever they may be going through.
“I hope it brings you happiness and (good) tears,” Kalie adds, “I hope that it lets you let things go and see the beauty the world has to offer. We love y’all.”
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"SAD LOOKS PRETTY ON ME" IS AVAILABLE NOW. LISTEN TO THE ALBUM HERE: