The new album from the RAA is an album that inspires mixed emotions. It certainly offers little new or ground-breaking (but then how many acts truly do offer that?), but if you seek grandiose, uplifting and massive choruses, or like the idea of Arcade Fire (a band this writer loves) making love to Coldplay and Mumford and Sons (two bands this writer loathes), then this could be just your cup of tea.
It does have elements of all those acts, and it does have big songs that would doubtlessly satisfy many a commercial radio listener, but there’s definitely something missing. The sound, too made up of influences doesn’t sounds like it is motivated by true passion as much as a knowing ability to replicate something that has obviously led others to grand successes. It doesn’t feel like a genuine journey. It isn’t unpleasant, though the lead vocals do grate at times, and over the course of the album it’s hard not to become a little bit bored by the lack of something altogether fresh.
The opening track is too dull. ‘Our Love…’ is all noise and harsh vocals and there’s little by way of a song, unless it’s very well hidden, until a big chorus arrives and just about saves the song. There’s a distinct lack of heart coming through. ‘This City’ is a brighter burst that also has a dense array of noise. The dynamic shifts seem to be drenched in wailing feedback and it seems overdone at times. ‘On The Rocks’ opens with surely a total nod to Arcade Fire (it echoes one of their tracks scarily so) and then when the vocals commence you feel like someone has switched bands and you are now listening to Tokyo Police Club (yes, already too many other influences named by this stage).
‘Terrified’ is right from the off pure radio fodder, and it does have a certain charm, but it’s all too similar to the whole commercial guitar pop crowd, and that general sound. Following track ‘Runners In The Night’ is more of the same, and the more fragile adult lullaby of ‘To be Scared’ certainly hits home more. It stirs the heart a little and feels like it is trying to be boisterous and created with an audience in mind. It’s one of the highlights here.
’45/33′ starts promisingly, and it isn’t a bad song, but by the end, as uplifting as it might be seen the ideas the band show have worn thin, and it all kind of blurs into one. It’s a shame really, but the second half feels like hard work, and it’s hard not to think of a lot of other bands, though this isn’t really as good as many, if any of them. Did I mention Neutral Milk Hotel? They are borrowed from more and more it seems. It’s hard to doubt that people will love this, but if anyone remembers these 12 songs some years down the road it’d be rather surprising.