After boasting names such as Death Cab for Cutie, Rilo Kiley and Mates of State, it's a safe bet that any new act signed to the Seattle label Barsuk will have enough pop potential to reach a broader audience yet still retain its indie cred. Hailing from Syracuse, N.Y., Ra Ra Riot joins the Barsuk family. After breaking into the music scene two years ago and quickly climbing the ladder to perform alongside bands like Art Brut and Tokyo Police Club and to play venues as far away as Iceland, Ra Ra Riot finally released a full-length record this month.
Balancing that delicate edge of indie experimentation with pop sensibilities, Ra Ra Riot place a heavy emphasis on their two-piece string section, featuring violin and cello, to create an easily identifiable sound. The Rhumb Line, set for release on Aug. 19, calls upon a trusted array of stylings, ranging from whimsical vocal musings that eagerly invite comparisons to The Shins, to more progressive dance hall beats, to even the occasional flirtation with '80s-style synth. At their finest, Ra Ra Riot merge all these elements indiscriminately, playing off each other and delving into uncharted musical territory. At other times, they are content to stick to safer water and indie-pop anthems. In all, The Rhumb Line demonstrates that Ra Ra Riot has all the potential to earn their place as another respected member of the Barsuk family.
Ra Ra Riot plays Neurolux on Sept. 18. Check the Sept. 17 issue of Boise Weekly for an interview with the band.