Ra Ra Riot, 'The Orchard' (Barsuk)

Critical Mass
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by Spencer Kornhaber

This sextet's poetry-quoting, cello-chugging debut came with plenty of stop-start, hum-along rockers, as if the band was out to prove that liberal-arts fops could soundtrack keggers. But here, they deliver the sort of mid-tempo, orch-pop fussiness that they'd been praised for transcending. A few tracks possess a quicker pulse, like the intriguingly twitchy "Massachusetts" and the aerobic, bass-driven fairy tale "Boy," while "Too Dramatic" resurrects the band's crowd-pleasing ambitions, with a keyboard breakdown worthy of Journey.

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