Album: Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line (V2/Cooperative Music)

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The fact that they write jaunty songs about death is the least surprising thing about Ra Ra Riot, a band from upstate New York who make very little effort to sound like their name.

What they do sound like is a blend of various, mostly British influences: 1980s-era Kitchenware and Postcard Records and even, at one point, a Paul McCartney solo record. Weird. And did I mention the album is a life-affirming tribute to a drowned drummer? Anyway, all of this is sadly more surprising than pretty much everything on 'The Rhumb Line', which mostly sounds like Prefab Sprout trying to be Arcade Fire.

Pick of the Album: The jangly and blunt 'Dying Is Fine'