The brief untitled debut EP from Syracuse, New York's Ra Ra Riot is but a six-song launch pad, but the band impresses memorably, with strong undercurrents and spirited, intricate arrangements. Two string players cushion surges of energy on this disc, and singer Wes Miles pushes almost too many thoughts into his verses before everything that's whirling by falls into place. "Each Year" is bright and speedy—its opening octave chords flutter around Miles' multiplying ideas while cello and violin color the race to a lovely coda. Later, naked sentiments in "Can You Tell" ("Baby, do you know/I think about you nightly") overtop pizzicato strings, and a bass melody meets this powerhouse's might and promise in the most affecting manner possible. Ra Ra Riot crafts smart pop, but "Can You Tell"'s intimate confessions, like those in The Penguins' "Earth Angel," are touching in their human, fumbling simplicity. Although the band has recently suffered a devastating loss in the passing of drummer, friend and co-songwriter John Pike, this primer outlines the possibility of momentous productions on the horizon.
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