Don’t worry guys, I’m still here. Things got a little nutty up here in Minneapolis and album reviews just didn’t seem important with everything else going on in the world. I’m not going to say things are better in the world, but I will say that I am trying to get better about getting back into a normal routine full of things that make me happy. That main thing is concerts and, sadly, we just aren’t there yet but checking out some new albums is a close second so I scarfed my dinner down tonight to make sure I would have time to check out ‘Smart Mouth’ by Riverby before crawling into bed to watch a true crime documentary that was sure to keep me up far past my bedtime.
‘Smart Mouth’ is the debut release from Phildelphia based Riverby and to say it caught me instantly wouldn’t be a stretch. A little carefree but a lot of energy and an almost sense of angst kicks the album off in “Nose To Nose”. I was instantly captivated by vocalist Sophia Greenberg’s vocal styling. It has a very 90’s vibe to it while feeling completely modern and new. When combined with the fuzzy guitars and powerful drumming, you are left with a sound that is so familiar yet seems to fail to be put into a box or really any specific words. “Nose To Nose” was the perfect song to help me back into my new-normal life. “I’m nose to nose with myself again. How do I get out of my head?”. Come on, that’s perfect.
The quick seven song album quickly rolls into the title track, “Smart Mouth”. This one has pop-punk tendencies at the beginning that instantly turn into a more indie vibe as Sophia’s vocals come in. Although I wouldn’t say this song is angsty in the way that From First To Last was (if you haven’t caught on yet, I’m definitely stuck in my early 2000’s emo stage), it’s still full of an angst that almost seems more age appropriate for me right now. The driving drums and chugging guitars made this song speed by far quicker than I would have liked but, no need to fear, I went back and listened to it again, and again, and again. Yeah, I really liked this song.
Things calm down a little bit for “Giving Tree” and the way the vocals switch from angst to a sweet-singing vibe is absolutely stunning. I love the way that, even though there’s a stark contrast in the vocal stylings, the instrumentation behind the vocals stays constant and makes sure you know that this song is by Riverby and nobody else. Just when I was getting a bit lost in my head over the painfully real lyrics of this song, the album moved on to “Out of Tune”. Another one of the softer songs on this album, “Out of Tune” is as close to a ballad as this album gets but I still wouldn’t call it a ballad. Again, I was struck by the difference in the vocals from the first two tracks to this one. The instrumentation slows down for this one as well creating an almost dreamscape of fuzziness that makes you just want to dance around in a field of flowers. Okay, dramatic and cheesy, but this is the perfect heartbreak song that also has a sense of “you’re going to be okay” in it. Thankfully, for what seems like the first time in my life, I’m not struggling with heartbreak but, because I’ve been there (as we all have), this song truly pulled at my heartstrings and I only wish it had been around for some of my uglier breakups.
“The Tell Tale Heart” kicks things back up a notch as an anthemic rock jam that is sure to get stuck in your head within the first listen. I know we are five tracks into this album review but I still just can’t get off of the interesting and unique vocals of Riverby. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the band is great and they clearly work perfectly as a full group but hot damn, Sophia’s vocal stylings clearly have me stuck and this song is a great example of just how versatile they are.
With “The Tell Tale Heart” ending on a powerful and almost aggressive note, it was a bit of a shock when the album continued into the dreamy landscape of “Echoes”. The first comparison that came to mind for this song was Kate Nash. Maybe it was the strong vocals that stand powerful and unwaivering while the instrumentation creates a dreamy mosaic behind the them or maybe it’s a slight but unrecognizable accent. Whatever it was, I was getting strong Kate Nash vibes and I loved every second of it. Although this song felt like a transitional song and completely out of place with the calmness of it compared to the garage rock vibes from the other tracks, it was far from a write-off song. Again, the versatility of this band in general is amazing and “Echoes” is a great example of that.
Closing out this truly brilliant album is “In My Dreams”. This song seems to take all of the emotions and all of the stylings laid out in the previous songs and tie them up with a beautiful bow. Although I think I was partly hoping for an absolute rager of a track for this quick album to end on, the way this track closes out the adventure is undeniably perfect. Although it brings closure to the album, it also makes you want to start the journey all over again which is exactly what I did.
The biggest disappointment of this album is that it is only seven tracks. What I wouldn’t give to hear at least another 84 songs from Riverby. A truly unique group that refuses to be classified and can only be compared by stretches of the imagination, Riverby is one of those bands that I expect huge things from and you best believe that when shows kick back in and they are able to tour, I will be in the front row singing my heart out.
My Favorite Track(s): “Smart Mouth”; “Nose To Nose”
For Fans Of: Nostalgia mixed with angst; Unclassifiable music; Uniqueness
Dance-ability: 6.3 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid right by my feet; Autumn had created a hole in the box spring of my bed last night so I’m sure she’s hiding in there
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 11 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.93 out of 5
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