Ra Ra Riot - Superbloom
Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot has been slowly easing this album into existence since last October. That’s when the New York indie group released the first piece of the album to come with “This Time Of Year.” It’s a warm song that felt fitting for the impending winter. Vocalist Wes Miles sings a familiar story of being separated from his partner, a trial all too relatable for touring musicians. There’s also a hint of reflection in the lyrics with a taste of nostalgia. It’s an upbeat pop song and by the final chorus Miles almost delivers in a Michael Jackson fashion; showing off an impressive vocal range.
With no word on “This Time Of Year” having any relation to a new album, several months passed without anything else. Nearing the end of March though, fans were gifted with “Bad To Worse.”
Wes Miles told Spin, “It’s about watching the world from the window of the car or bus, and how there’s a familiarity to everything but it’s never the same as it once was.”
The song has a similar build to it as their previous album’s hit “Water.” It’s a slightly slower pace while at the same time a bit peppier, but it has a similar weightless hook to it with great reverb. The song doesn’t quite match the heights set from “Water,” but it certainly demonstrates their strength at putting together a polished pop track.
It was two months later, on May 17, when Superbloom was officially announced along with the release of the third single and what would become the opening track, “Flowers.” Miles seems to be tackling more personal issues, reflecting on a broken relationship and questioning his choices.
After another two months, the fourth piece of the album was released with “War & Famine.”
“This is probably the most personal track on the record for me. One of the only times I’ve ever tracked and comped vocals totally alone in my apartment without anyone else to filter through.”
The man truly shows off his vocal talents on this one, for the most sentimental track of the group. A wonderfully put together piece of music that, unlike other songs from the band, takes on a bit of a political stance, poking at “generational entitlement.” The feeling is strong on this one but doesn’t quite rip open the gut. It’s good for reflection and thought, but just falls short of being something phenomenal.
With one week left before album’s release, they put out one final single called “Belladonna.” After four strong singles that didn’t quite hit the mark, this is the one that finally did.
“It just immediately felt like it was the cornerstone of the record. A lot of the songs on the record were just things that fit immediately that we didn’t question too much. This was one of them for sure.”
It’s the biggest and most confident song on the album. It does everything right, with an off-your-feet chorus that delivers a ton of feeling. It’s finally a love song that doesn’t involve Miles reflecting on what was, but what could be.
It was a long wait from “This Time Of Year” in October to the album release in August, but a worthwhile wait it was. The music is as colorful as the flowers on the front cover. Every song has its place. There’s not much blending here; no song gets buried in the others. You feel the individual attention to each track, each one a project of its own rather than just a part of something bigger. This is likely in part because each song tends to follow its path, the band all for pushing different buttons within their wheelhouse.
The one questionable track that shows the band stretching their sound is “Endless Pain/Endless Joy.” It’s a repetitive beat, repetitive lyrics, and opens into a cacophony of drum and guitar that isn’t much more than a headache.
There’s little else to say negatively about this album. The songs are suited for many occasions. “Bitter Conversation” could be some of the most fun you’ll have on this, bringing in a dazzling disco hook. “Gimme Time” almost breaches on a gospel feel while “Backroads” is your go-to windows down, open road anthem of the group.
“Dangerous” is arguably the most infectious of the pack and is the standout pop song, while closing track “A Check For Daniel” sends the album off on a fun note - another example of the creative talent in this under-appreciated band. And speaking of creativity, they sure take a unique approach to the song “An Accident,” where it appears Miles is referencing making his suicide look like an accident.
“Oh, to leave with a subtle wink/My masterpiece, my own bargain fee.”
There is much to be found here and the New York indie act has made a mark on 2019 with this release; though one that might only be felt by the fans.