The Rhumb Line (Bonus Track Version)
The genteel sounds of Ra Ra Riot’s indie pop are nothing new: bands like The Shins, Arcade Fire, The Coctails, and Vampire Weekend have all made sweetly emotive music, suitable for your own brand of dancing/twitching/twirling, depending on your state of mind. Using the now popular sounds of strings to baroque things up a bit, this New York band turned out a beautiful pop debut to rival those of the bands above — all in the aftermath of losing founding member/drummer John Pike in a drowning accident in 2007. Naming the album after a bar near Pike’s house in Massachusetts, and infusing the songs (many co-written by Pike) with an almost joyous vibe, The Rhumb Line feels both like a celebration of things past and an affirmation of what’s to come. The songs here brim with self-assured grandness: the gently soaring “Ghost Under Rocks,” the eerie and melancholy “Dying Is Fine,” the butterfly flutters of “Each Year,” and the faintly Beatlesque “Winter ‘05” are sculpted into small masterpieces by vocalist Wes Miles, his soothing and sweet inflections knitting the strings and guitars into gently propulsive pop songs that move feet and heart alike. The band’s cover of Kate Bush’s “Suspended in Gaffa” is fresh and quite superb.