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Ra Ra Riot, ‘The Rhumb Line’ (Barsuk)

Spencer Kornhaber // August 18, 2008

Drummer John Pike cowrote the lyrics for much of the debut album by these Syracuse, New Yorkers before he mysteriously drowned last summer, so the images of cemetery flowers in “Each Year” and the cheerfully delivered e.e. cummings quotes on “Dying Is Fine” aren’t the post-traumatic writings of a grieving band. In Ra Ra Riot’s short existence, the cello-rocking sextet has consistently inserted bubblegum earnestness into Arcade Fire melodrama. Anchored by four tracks from a previous EP that were re-recorded with the hooks highlighted, this nimble full-length wrings catharsis from pop with no lapses into pretension.

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