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Ra Ra Riot - Boy
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Aug 19, 2010
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112 times
Why do we like this?
With its twee pop appeal and baroque rock sensibility, Ra Ra Riot will release its sophomore effort The Orchard on Barsuk Records on August 24. While nine out of the ten tracks were mixed by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla and one was mixed by Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, The Orchard is the band's first full length completely written without the lyrical mastery of John Ryan Pike, their original drummer and primary songwriter, who had died from drowning in 2007.

The delicate trot of a somber cello begins the dirge-like title track. In "The Orchard," Wes Miles' indie boy falsetto is braided with a beautifully sparse violin and cello accompaniment. In "Boy" and "Too Dramatic," the two following tracks, Wes' vocals are a smidge nasally, making the lyrics somewhat unintelligible. These are excusable flaws, however, as the words are not of very much consequence anyway.

The immateriality of the lyrics is self-evident in the chorus of "Too Dramatic:" You're too dramatic / I don't understand it / Out of the static / You're too dramatic. Another shortcoming of "Too Dramatic" is its own lack of theatricality to parallel its lyrical content. However, with the spunky guitar riff of "Boy" and relatable subject matter of "Too Dramatic," both are satisfying indie pop songs to the ears of undiscerning listeners.

As for "Massachusetts," George Lang, Assistant Entertainment Editor of the Oklahoman, perfectly encapsulated it when he said: ". . . [it] sounded like a rejected Vampire Weekend track." Next is "You and I." Alexandra Lawn's (cello) smoky yet clean vocals are a welcome respite from Wes' sometimes smudged renderings. And, with a simple melody and muted organ playing, "Keep It Quiet" is a refreshingly gorgeous conclusion to The Orchard save for its percussive elements that, at times, overwhelm the delicateness of the song. "Keep It Quiet (Bear)" on their Boy EP, because of its simplicity, is more refined.

In The Orchard, an album of transition, Ra Ra Riot continues to create beauty of its chamber pop soundscapes but the band appears to be in lyrical limbo when compared to its previous LP, The Rhumb Line "“ and understandably so. Nonetheless, as the Ra Ra Riot continues on, what has been, its sharp rise in popularity, a lyrically cohesive album of consequence is without a doubt on the horizon.

This post was originally published on GreenShoelace.com
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