In the last week of August 2010 Ra Ra Riot released their 2nd LP The Orchard on Barsuk Records. It was a follow up to their impressive first effort, The Rhumb Line. It’s a shame to have to report that this set of tunes didn’t exactly blow me away. The Rhumb Line should have acted as a solid foundation on which to build an even catchier more interesting set of songs. I’m afraid that high expectations took a dump on Ra Ra Riot’s sophomoric parade.
I admit that The Orchard starts off on a beautiful, enticing tease of a note. The title track is a gorgeous piece of work. The bass guitar and cello dance together in elegant mournfulness with moody vocals tying it all together into an inviting package to start the party. This leads into “Boy” which is a fast paced playful song sure to have your toes tapping. The blistering bass line hits you like a machine gun, with much more positive results than an actual machine gun would leave you with. Again, a good start.
Unfortunately, from this point on the album sort of piddles out a bit. There are a few higher points here and there that make you think the flood gates are going to open up spilling buckets worth of awesome on you. However, the gates remain closed throughout. No such spilling ever actually takes place. No other tracks really stand out for me besides the closer “Keep It Quiet”, which is another moodier quieter track. That said, none of the tracks stand out as especially bad either. They’re just not the fascinating work that is expected here.
I find myself liking the slower, more subtle tracks on this one. They seem to have gotten those right. Maybe Ra Ra Riot would do well to concentrate on those types of songs on their next effort. If you liked The Rhumb Line you should certainly like The Orchard. Heck, I like The Orchard, just not nearly as much as I had hoped I would. Stand out tracks are “The Orchard”, “Boy”, and “Keep It Quiet”.