Rock band Ra Ra Riot is set to release their new album, Superbloom, Friday. The genre-bending record, which was produced with former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, is a beautiful melange of rock, pop, psychedelic and electronica. The album is the group’s first full-length release since their 2016 record, Need Your Light, which was also produced with Batmanglij.
Superbloom opens with “Flowers,” one of four singles that has already been released in anticipation of the album. The song begins with the sound of echoing vibrations that simulate a tunnel of music, creating excitement for the rhythm that is about to begin and the album to follow. The tune is an ode to a lost relationship, stating, “Now I'm making bread again, still living in a rental // You're in our old house and it makes me sentimental.” However, the upbeat, traditional rock sound of the song offers a more optimistic message to combat the sentiments expressed in the lyrics.
The next track on the album is “Bad To Worse,” which is also one of the band’s singles released earlier this year. The song is slower than “Flowers” and features bits of electronica in the vocal and instrumental portions of the track. “Bad To Worse” achieves a very unique sound by also incorporating a flute and mixing woodwind instruments with electronica. Electronic music is incorporated throughout the album; “Belladonna” uses electronica to create an almost psychedelic, ambient sound. The track, which draws its name from the film Belladonna of Sadness, is a heart-wrenching ode to a beautiful woman. “An Accident,” the second to last track on the album, also features a more psychedelic sound. The track’s haunting vocals are accompanied by a slow, rhythmic drum beat that seems to slow time itself, almost as if the song is bracing listeners for the end of the record.
“War & Famine” is another track off the album to incorporate electronica. The experimental song is very futuristic sounding, featuring echoing vibrations of pulsing notes that seem to grow closer, then shrink away as one listens to the track. The pattern of the electronic music is almost reminiscent of the sound of a gospel choir--growing very loud very quickly, and quieting down the next moment, putting stress and focus on those loud moments. “Gimme Time” also features the same gospel-esque nature in sound, but not content. The song, which is probably my favorite off of the album, features beautiful vocals reaching a large range of notes. The focal vocals are interspersed with background vocals, simulating the effect of a choral performance. The ballad is all-encompassing, providing a transportive experience within the song.
Other songs on the album feature a more traditional pop sound and format. “Bitter Conversations” incorporates a flute and funky drums, giving the track a beachy sound. A solo featuring what sounds like an electronic keyboard is almost reminiscent of a horn solo during a jazz piece, demonstrating once more Ra Ra Riot’s ability to incorporate a variety of musical genres in one track. The same beachy sound can also be heard on “This Time of Year” and “Backroads,” which all focus mainly on the drums and vocals within the song.
Ultimately, Superbloom is a diverse experience, which involves cooperation between several different musical genres. You’ll be able to hear the beautiful album yourself on August 9 when the record drops, and be on the lookout for Ra Ra Riot U.S. tour dates, which will be released soon.