Review Summary: Ra-Ra-ah-ah-ah-ah, Riot is the stu-uff! (see, even Lady Gaga seems into them)
A merry group for one and all, this Syracuse band creates songs that resound with cheerful hooks, and orchestral, poppy collaborations.
With all the success and overload of indie pop bands over the past couple years, it’s essential to either narrow down your preferences or search for those who consecrate themselves from the whirlpool of sameness. Ra Ra Riot sure has the upper hand in uniqueness of the genre with their variety of instrumentation. On top of rockin’ drums, guitar, and bass, they incorporate keys, cello, and violin- generously. The heavily blanketed low end cello and high end violin benefit the cause of the songs rather than take the heart of the song out of context.
RRR’s debut album- “The Rhumb Line” is a solid first effort. The vocals of lead singer- Wesley Miles reel you in with little time to waste, and some songs are accompanied with female vocals. Percussion is big in this album, steady and not overkill. Very conscience of when to execute fills. The guitar and bass work are not too out of the ordinary. But the strings fill in the gaps tremendously, giving their sound a modern, yet traditional style.
Most of the tracks on this album are upbeat and dance-inducing. There are a couple toned down, easy going jams, though. A downside is that some of the tunes and rhythms begin to mesh together, making it difficult to tell different patterns apart. Lyrically, the topics mainly deal with relationship matters. They are an easy read, and contain some heart-warming ideas. “The Rhumb Line” is fine for both dancing the night away and relaxing your stress away.
RRR are definitely on the same grounds as perhaps over-praised Vampire Weekend and Grizzly Bear. The orchestral dynamic is what they are built on and it is clearly working for them. There are few songs that don’t rock on this album, but the ones that stand out are for sure hits. Such stand out’s I would refer are: Dying Is Fine, Can You Tell, Too Too Too Fast, and Ghost Under Rocks. Miles’ voice at times is reminiscent to Lennon, Mccartney, and Sting. In fact, RRR seems to be influenced by the Beatles songs which utilized orchestral accompaniment, especially the last track entitled “Run My Mouth”. If you spread out the grandeur of “Eleanor Rigsby” and divided it up into ten songs, you would end up with this promising effort named “The Rhumb Line”.
Ra Ra Riot have made their mark on the indie pop scene, and with a start this favorable, I do not suspect them to slow down any time in the near future. Thanks for incorporating a somewhat intriguing aspect to your music, guys and gals. If I were a lad that played a symphonic stringed instrument, I would surely be jamming along to this record in my bedroom. Otherwise, it is a satisfying listen regardless.