Friday, August 22, 2008

Review: Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line (* * * *)

It looks as though the indie-pop throne, currently occupied by Vampire Weekend, might be contested with this debut album from Ra Ra Riot. Sharing a love for bouncy melodies, literary lyrics, and singers with a similar vocal style, these two bands will definitely be competing for attention from indie enthusiasts.

However, while Vampire Weekend embrace a very relaxed and sunny style filled with afro-pop guitars and vapid lyrics, Ra Ra Riot take themselves a little more seriously. With an overactive cellist and violinist among their members, the group create a sound that is both very bright and tense at the same time. Also, with the recent death of a beloved band member, Ra Ra Riot can't seem to shake the gloomy overtones from lyrics about death and ghosts. Luckily, the band doesn't dwell on the sadness; throwing in a few love songs, plenty of pleasant melodies, and an overall positive outlook that let the album be fun and enjoyable.

The problem with "The Rhumb Line" is that it tends to be a little unmemorable. Beside the danceable "Dying Is Fine," the songs come and go without really sticking, at least immediately. The melodies and hooks are all there, but for some reason after a listen or two I couldn't remember any moments that struck me. The album is always pleasant, but rarely exciting. After a few more spins, though, the songs have become much more compelling.

Having said that, this is a strong debut by a group who understand their limits as well as their strengths and choose to play to the latter. It's short (37 minutes) and consistent throughout, giving a glimpse of a band that should only get better with time. For indie lovers like me, it's a must-have for 2008.

Favorite Tracks: Dying Is Fine, Can You Tell, Each Year


The Captain said...

Great review! I also reviewed this on my blog if you want to check it out. I'd love to link up if you are willing.