"A mother so cold and gray/And though she gives you one, she takes one away," sings Wes Miles in "Massachusetts," clearly referring to the ocean that claimed bandmate John Ryan Pike prior to Ra Ra Riot's 2008 debut. With dubby beats, choral vocals and signature strings, it's the most haunted song on the group's second LP, a set of genteel indie pop swinging between Dirty Projectors' ornate chamber music and the prep-school dance party of Vampire Weekend. The latter's Rostam Batmanglij adds bump to "Do You Remember," an abstract riff on Hall and Oates soul that, like the best tracks here, offers a leg up from mourning – into lust, love, life. If the textures still outshine the hooks, well, maybe that's fitting.
- The Orchard
- Ra Ra Riot
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