I really like this album, it doesn't have any amazing standout tracks on, but everything just fits together on it so well, with light enchanting melodies and an urgency to the beats. It's easily an album you can listen to all the way through repeatedly, the follow up album The Orchard is almost as good, but this is probably their best.
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!
I have never written any Amazon review before and I must admit I have seen some with which my views have not been on the same planet as the reviewer BUT it is always easier to be destructive than constructive. Having picked up on this from The Fly I feel this is the best of 2008 so far with each song beautifully crafted and played with the same attention. The sadness of the band comes through in the songs but not to the extent that it becomes over-bearing. Cannot wait to see them and Vampire Weekend on the coming tour. Recommend this to anyone.
I bought this album after catching Ra Ra Riot supporting Vampire Weekend on their UK tour. They were fantastic - very much my taste in music - a mixture of indie rock with effective rather than cheesy use of violin, double bass (or cello?) Whilst they have a very distinct sound, the album is pretty varied, from the upbeat 'too too too fast' and 'ghost under rocks' to the more wistful 'dying is fine'. Some songs (such as the latter) have a very definite 'Smiths' flavour, although overall they would sit happily beside Vampire Weekend, the Arcade Fire etc. One of my favourite albums of recent years - definitely give it a go if you're curious!