Before Mumford and Sons, I was all about Ra Ra Riot, the indie-rock band from New York. The first song that I heard from them was “Too Too Fast”, taken from their first album, The Rhumb Line. It didn’t take too long for me to discover “Boy” from their next album, “The Orchard”, but it was their single “Can You Tell” that ultimately made them an instant favorite.
I listened to both of their albums at the same time, so I was able to contrast a few things about their music and how it changed in two years. The Orchard was released in August 2010, and with it comes a ‘cleaner’ sound. The band was able to work alongside other indie artists like Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij.
This album, like a countless others, seem to fall under those second album upsets. It is, after all, what usually happens on other artists’ second albums — somehow, the magic or the rawness decreases. It’s very rare to find an artist with their second album surpassing their debuts or at least gets to maintain the same ‘quality’.
I think that sort of happened in The Orchard. Don’t get me wrong, though, the band was able to keep that distinct sound that instantly tells you, “That’s Ra Ra Riot” — but I did feel like a bit of that young college kid type of music feeling the band oozes with in their first album was missing here — hence, the comment that the songs in this album seems rather more ‘clean’ and ‘polished’.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I still managed to enjoy this album mixed in with their tracks from The Rhumb Line. While the track “Boy” was released and used in an episode of Royal Pains, I have to say that the first song that I actually noticed in this album was Track 7: “Shadowcasting”. After a while though, it was Track 4: “Foolish” that has ultimately captured my heart. It’s probably included in the list of songs that I can’t stop myself from singing once it’s playing.