Ra Ra Riot The Orchard

Ra Ra Riot The Orchard
Chamber pop consortium Ra Ra Riot's debut, The Rhumb Line, slyly counterbalanced playfulness and austerity, swathing indelible hooks in orchestral arrangements. The band's follow-up retains the polish of its predecessor, but sacrifices much of its fun. Out of the gate, the title track's gorgeous melody receives little backup, becoming mired in underdeveloped prettiness. Likewise, "Boy" begins with a promising, New Order-evoking strut before retreating to comfortable strings. Much of the record suffers a similarly disappointing fate. "Shadowcasting" can't come up with an appropriate foil for singer Wes Miles' swaggering vocals, while "Foolish" is an undercooked '80s radio rock throwaway. Anomalously, closer "Keep it Quiet" thrives on sheer beauty. Conversely, standout track "You and I Know" enchantingly blends disparate elements, including Beirut-style cabaret, fluttering keys, simmering drums and cellist Alexandra Lawn's spotlight-grabbing vocal turn. However, its success highlights the rest of the album's slightness and, ultimately, unrealized potential. (Arts & Crafts)