Quite right, this is a bit rhumb. Ra Ra Riot's 2007 eponymous EP Ra Ra Riot
showed great promise, recalling both Arcade Fire in its use of lush strings and tempo changes, as well as, and in retrospect, Vampire Weekend, with its Paul Simon vocals.
Sadly the Arcade Fire influence has been dropped for the album in favour of pursuing the Vampire Weekend influences, as well as some other radio-friendly indie-pop acts. The result is such that the four tracks here borrowed from the EP still ring promising, in particular `Ghost Under Rocks', but they stand alone as standout moments.
Granted the band sadly lost a member between the EP and album, but in doing so seem to have also lost their edge, which does serve as adequate posthumous praise for the poor lad. Where the album falls down is in its sub-Vampire Weekend aping. I am very much of the opinion that one of those is more than enough so a worse, at times (St. Peter's Day Festival and Suspended In Gaffa) sound-alike does not inspire me.
Where the album differentiates itself from the pack is with the commendable lashings of cello and other strings, but that alone does not a viable Arcade Fire alternative make.
The EP had a curious effect of managing to be so discreet a grower as to leap from bland to great in one epiphanic moment, but with regret, I'm sure I could play the LP forever without that same realisation of Eureka!