The Orchard (Bonus Track Version)

The Orchard (Bonus Track Version)

The sound of Syracuse, NY’s Ra Ra Riot is thousands of miles away from the snowy banks of the college town where they once formed. Singer Wes Miles glides on top of the band’s quirky keyboard-cello-bass attack until he’s sliding out on the dancefloor way ahead of everyone, modesty be damned. His vocals deserve the spotlight. Bassist Mathieu Santos takes a pulsing, melodic lead on several cuts (“Boy,” in particular) while the keyboards are straight from an ‘80s disco (“Too Dramatic”). These songs feature airscapes that can be solemn and beatific (“The Orchard,” “Keep It Quiet”) or swooning and earnest (“Kansai,” “Do You Remember”). There’s an innocence here that continues the brisk excitement of their 2008 debut album, The Rhumb Line. The Bonus Version includes a demo of “Shadowcasting” that’s still pretty much as elaborate in its own way as the full studio version and a video for “Boy” rounds out the package. Compared to many other higher-profile contemporary bands such as Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire, Ra Ra Riot have their own little niche here that’s soothing and quite entertaining.

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