Mercury - 2001 - 42 minutes

Emerging at the tail end of last year, Rival Schools' debut album may have got swallowed up in the pre-Christmas hubbub but it should sell by the vanload in 2002.

As frontman for New York outfit Quicksand, 'Schools head honcho Walter Schreifels wrote some of the most stirring and anthemic post hardcore sounds around, but aside from influencing an entire generation of bands, his own never got the success they deserved and split up. Now he's carried his ear for a great riff and knack for putting relationships through a microphone and carried them into his new outfit - spectacularly.

Brimming with spiky guitars and lyrics, 'United by Fate' manages to be both poppy and aggressive - in the same song - and confirms Schreifels as one of the finest songwriters that the punk rock underground has ever thrown into the mainstream. Lovers of both Fugazi and Nirvana will find plenty to turn up here with the singalongs of 'The Switch' and 'High Acetate' brilliantly offset by the deeper grooves of 'World Invitational' and 'Undercovers On'.

There's not one dud track, just fortysomething minutes that would make anyone dig out that amp from under the bed and try and play along.

A message to teenagers everywhere: hear this album.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Travel by Telephone - Everything Has Its Point – High Acetate - Undercovers On - Good Things - Used for Glue – World Invitational - The Switch - Holding Sand - My Echo - Favourite Star – So Down On - Hooligans for Life