Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ra Ra Riot: The Orchard

The Syracuse, New York, sextet released their successful debut in 2008, and the follow-up effort, The Orchard dropped in late August.  "We both had doubts, / We're both in doubt," croons lead singer Wes Miles on the opening track.  Welp, that makes three of us.  My first few listens sensed a sonic sophomore slump, but after spinning the album a dozen times, I became convinced that it wasn't a slump so much as failure to match or eclipse the debut.

Chris Walla of Death Cab fame mixed nine-tenths of the albums, but there's no hint of death cab here.  Rostam Batmanglij, perhaps better known as the other half of Discovery, mixed the remaining track ("Do You Remember"), but maybe it's just my ears searching for something, but this album sounds more like Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut -- at least in "Boy":

RRR has always had an upbeat, pop-ish sound, but Orchard feels slightly more poppy than Rhumb Line.  I can't quite place my finger on it.  A couple of tracks usually require the skip button as soon as they start ("Massachusetts" and "You and I know"--which will likely be known as "that one disappointing song where the girl sings").  The album feels a little nondescript at times -- not bad, not good, just ... there.  It got off to a promising start, stalled in the middle, and then winds down without much fanfare.

Grade: C+
Blurb: It's not a bad effort, but it is a little disappointing after Rhumb Line.

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