Music Review: Ra Ra Riot, “The Orchard” (Barsuk)
Ra Ra Riot’s second album, “The Orchard,” finds the New York band filing off some of the rough edges found on 2008′s “The Rhumb Line” and emerging as an indie-orchestral Fleetwood Mac: The melodies are brighter and lighter, the arrangements more spacious and less claustrophobic. There seems to be little on the band’s mind beyond the politics of love, but when Ra Ra Riot is delivering such easy-on-the-ears beauty this time out, substance might only get in the way.
This is the first time the band has been entirely without the lyrical gifts of late drummer John Pike, and while the depth of songs such as “Each Year” is missed, singer Wes Miles fills in this unfortunate blank with gorgeous pop music on the first single, “Too Dramatic,” and the simmering “Foolish.” Producers Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) and Rostam Batmanglij push cellist Alexandra Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller forward in the mix, while Milo Bonacci’s guitar telegraphs arpeggios just below the surface. Lawn also comes to the fore as vocalist on “You and I Know,” the point where the Mac comparison is most apt, evoking the dreamier moments of that band’s post-“Rumours” period.
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