The Rhumb Line Album CoverThe Rhumb Line is a lush and energetic indie rock/pop album with a mournful and tragic side. Although it deals with loss and regret, it always feels breezy and optimistic. It is a cathartic and fulfilling experience, rather than one that’s moody and overcome with emotion.

Ra Ra Riot is a large 6 member band with a strong strings section. Their size gives them a dense and lush sound which they use to great effect, and they have a keen jazz influence at play; reminding me in parts of Django Reinhardt.

From the start this album hits with blast of energy in the form of a thumping, punching beat. Every now and then the beat lets up to give some space to an instrumental, only to come bounding back in to heighten the intensity of a passage.

The album is constantly pushing, then pulling you through the songs. It masterfully changes pace and aural intensity to keep you on your toes, while not going so far that the songs lose definition and become unfocused.

An artful cello brings a level of pathos that accentuates the singers yearning voice and heartfelt lyrics. Along with a violin it can regularly be heard offering a wonderful counterpoint to the vocals. Weaving at first between supporting the rhythm with the guitar and then coming out of the background to emphasise the vocal phrases with an offset harmony.

The vocal style leans towards the pop side of things with a decent amount of movement and energy, though never becoming overpowering. It pulls the album forward and is the primary reason why the album retains a lighter feeling than its lyrical subject matter would suggest.

The album contains a broad selection of styles, ranging from the subdued, to the non-stop. Wonderfully it manages to keep a common framework of instruments throughout all the different styles making the album strongly connected even as it changes. One-off instruments (such as a xylophone) and a changing emphasis on the core instruments keeps the album diverse the entire way through.

This is an absolute joy of an album. Managing to be uplifting while leading you through a negative landscape.

9/10