In searching for something to write about Ra Ra Riot’s The Orchard, nothing really jumped out at me. I like this album. It’s solid. It’s catchy. It moves and you get sucked into it while listening. But beyond that, I couldn’t quite think of anything else to say about it.
The Orchard is Ra Ra Riot’s second full-length LP after 2008’s The Rhumb Line, which would have been one of my top albums of 2008 if I hadn’t found it until April 2009. Songs like “Ghost Under Rocks” and “Dying Is Fine” were captivating as their rhythms chugged and drove forward, bringing me along with them.
But The Orchard lacks that song. It lacks the eerie chorus of “Ghost Under Rocks.” It lacks the barrage of noise in the intro of “Dying Is Fine.” Instead, listeners are treated to an album full of respectably paced Ra Ra Riot songs. Anyone familiar with The Rhumb Line will immediately recognize each song on The Orchard as a Ra Ra Riot song, but no song goes out of it’s way to distinguish itself from the rest of the album.
“Boy,” the lead single off The Orchard is easily the most recognizable song. Wes Miles’ voice is in top form while the instrumentation around it is quintessentially Ra Ra Riot. On “Do You Remember,” Miles prods a subject about a past relationship, creating the emotional feel that I connect with the band. Also, the backing vocals on this track are some of the most haunting I can remember. “Massachusetts” is probably my favorite song off the album, with a catchy chorus and subject matter easy to relate to.
While The Rhumb Line was and still is a great album, The Orchard is only good. When you listen to it, you know it’s Ra Ra Riot, but nothing happens during that time period to make it extremely memorable. It doesn’t have that song that will stay with you like “Ghost Under Rocks” and “Dying Is Fine” will do on The Rhumb Line. That being said, it’s still an enjoyable album to listen to when you want to listen to Ra Ra Riot, but in the grand scheme of 2010, it is an outlier.