Heralded with good interviews, I was very curious of this band and their highly anticipated first album. Struck with tragedy in June of 2007 when their drummer and songwriter, John Pike, died, his fingerprints are laced throughout the album, as well as his death's impact on the band.
It's no surprise that the band is close knit with Vampire Weekend, and share an inflluence of Chamber music. The band has a mini string section to augment their melodies, with fast pace beats, lyrics full of pondering about death and love. It's confirmed that these 5 kids from Massachusetts delivered one of the best of 2008.
- Ghost Under Rocks- With an instant pile driving bass and cello riff, this song starts out with a bang. A good way to start off, but not my favourite on the album. 4 stars
- Each Year- Sort of a conversation with oneself to keep on keeping on, along with a narrative on youth experiences. There are a lot of wise hooks in here though, you can tell this band has matured emotionally a great deal in result of losing their good friend. 5 stars
- St. Peter's Day Festival- A fun narrative of a festival in Gloucester, MA. This song also evokes the experiences in youth. Written by John Pike himself before he died, it shows the possible Irish-Catholic influence that you'd expect from anyone from MA. The music is alive, the words are happy, but also thoughtful. 5 stars
- Winter '05- The message of this song is very clear, "If you were here, winter wouldn't pass quite so slow". I feel like I'm in a cottage somewhere in New England with a fire going next to "orange lamp-shine". This song is cozy and warm, and lead their violin and cello make it all the more wonderful. 4 stars
- Dying is Fine- Based off of a poem by E.E. Cummings, the title says it all, their ode to John Pike. The music is alive again, and the chorus turns into a racing an Indie-anthem. 5 stars
- Can You Tell- This song proves that death and sadness isn't the only thing on their mind, but so is love. With hooks like "my bed's too big for just me", and "I think about you nightly", this song will get stuck in your head all day. 5 stars
- Too Too Too Fast- 80's keyboards? Yes!!! Another anthem chorus, cunning lyrics, and the drums in the intro are dynamite. 4 stars
- Oh, La- The bass line is sort of like a heartbeat driving through the whole song, this song is slow-paced but each note is carefully played. Proclaiming "we've got a lot to learn from each other, we've got to stick together", Ra Ra Riot has mastered every element of their genre. The fast paced choruses, the ballads, the Chamber Pop strings, and the faux-British vocals. 4 stars
- Suspended in Gaffa- Kate Bush fans have heard this one before, but for the rest of us, it's the first time hearing this wonderful song. This song focuses on the lighter side of death, and more of the passing into the next world and God himself. Another great chorus, and wise words again, "Unless we can prove that we're doing it, we can't have it all". 4 stars
- Run My Mouth Off- Now that they've discussed dealing with love, losing loved ones, and death, now comes the part where they decide what's next, and there is light at the end of their tunnel. This song shows that there is definitely hope for overcoming the sadness, and continuing on. 4 stars
Flagship: "Each Year"