Rahim, ‘Ideal Lives’ (Frenchkiss)

Jungles, the first EP from the New York trio Rahim, was a pretty straightforward little beast of a record. The band wore their Dischord influences like a neon faux-vintage T-shirt, and it was easy to compare them to Q and Not U or Gang of Four, depending on your personal musical lodestone. For four songs, their angular post-punk was genuinely impressive, but even in that short space, the songs could go on too long and the flat, effect-free vocals could become tiresome.

With their debut full-length, Ideal Lives, the band accomplishes one of the most difficult things in the world of music: They move their sound forward and incorporate more of their influences without abandoning their earlier sonic identity. Ideal Lives still has that old D.C. sound. No matter what you may stumble across online, any emo in this album is way more Rites of Spring than Hawthorne Heights — and at points, that’s all that’s going on here.

Sometimes, though, glimpses of something far more interesting poke out around the jagged drumbeats. On “Forever Love” — all vocal harmonies and Moog and melody — the band welds their art-punk sound to a slice of perfect Beatlesesque pop, and what results is something fantastic. And “Satisfy” offers one minute of gorgeous dirge-like longing that comes suddenly out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly.

Ideal Lives is an uneven record, at times frustratingly so, but it is also the sound of a band finding out just what they are capable of, and falling in love with it.

SEE ALSO: A Day in Black and White, Notes (Level Plane, 2005)

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