Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

Despite lazy comparisons with Arcade Fire, the album lacks their impassioned drama, subtle complexity and depth, bobbing along without really evoking any strong emotions.

Released 30 Sep 2008 | V2 | By Anna Dobbie | Rating: 2-5
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

Right, let's get this out of the way in the first sentence - Ra Ra Riot have a rather misleading name, as they are not likely to incite any mobs to violence and/or destruction. If a mob were to listen to 'The Rhumb Line', they'd be more likely to sit down with a cup of tea and have a good hard think about the fragile state of humanity, and much bloodshed would probably be prevented. It'd be pretty much impossible to get hot and sweaty to Ra Ra Riot.

Last year, the band suffered a massive loss when their drummer, co-writer and lyricist, John Ryan Pike, drowned and their debut album is billed as a life-affirming tribute to his memory. Although the influence appears obvious in spine-tingling swells of strings and song titles such as 'Ghost Under Rocks', many of the more maudlin numbers were in fact written before the tragedy and performed with John at the SXSW festival, leaving a question mark over how the album would have turned out if events had been different.

Recent single 'Dying Is Fine' is a jaunty little number that flits along effortlessly with sweeping cello and tumbling drums, while in 'Winter '05', delicate melodies are suspended on strings, and lead singer Wesley Miles coos that "if you were here, winter wouldn't pass quite so slow". Irish jig 'Suspended In Gaffa' is the band's second attempt at covering a Kate Bush song following their rendition of 'Hounds Of Love', which unfortunately will always be seen as second best when measured up to The Futureheads' version. Despite lazy comparisons with Arcade Fire, the album lacks their impassioned drama, subtle complexity and depth, bobbing along without really evoking any strong emotions. Unfortunately, it seems that they are still too overwhelmed by their loss to produce more inspired music.