Ra Ra Riot: The Rhumb Line

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Ra Ra Riot: <i> The Rhumb Line </i>

College-rock quintet emerges with dynamic LP, leaves room for growth

While several songs from the band's 2007 self-titled EP reappear, The Rhumb Linelines and toe-tapping drums that call to mind Death Cab for Cutie's We Have The Facts&nbsp;and We're Voting Yes. Long-time fan favorite "Dying is Fine" maintains its original intensity, while its lyrics (albeit derived from an E.E. Cummings poem) still sound haunting more than a year after the death of former drummer/vocalist John Pike.
What creates this vessel's momentum, though, is its distinctive string section,&nbsp;one moment stirring a decorative zephyr, the next billowing the sails with as much power as a shredding guitar solo. Throughout, Wes Miles' vocals are equal parts gentle and urgent, sometimes mimicking the songs' string arrangements. On "Winter '05," he perfects a faux-Brit, Morrissey-inspired warble, adding another layer of frost to the window pane of a lovelorn co-ed.

The Rhumb Line loses force toward the end, with songs like "Too Too Too Fast," falling victim to repetitive choruses.&nbsp;"Run My Mouth" features some of the album's dreamiest strings, but Miles' oft-delicate quiver becomes shouty and forced. But the ship does not capsize; The Rhumb Line instead drops anchor as a solid debut that beckons refinement and experimentation further down its course.

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