Shervin Lainez
February 26, 2016 at 08:11 PM EST

Ra Ra Riot

Current Status
In Season
We gave it a B+

When Ra Ra Riot released their excellent debut album The Rhumb Line in 2008, they were part of a group of preppy rockers (Vampire Weekend, Dirty Projectors) who showed a gift for crafting instantly hummable, ’80s-inflected chamber pop. Tastes have changed in the ever-shifting world of indie since (R.I.P. Chillwave) but Ra Ra Riot have persevered, and despite one ill-advised detour into electronic music (2013’s Beta Love), they’ve only sharpened and mastered their sound: their fourth album, Need Your Light, might be their most artful and catchiest set yet.

Some credit is to due to former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, who has produced two tracks here. On “Water,” he adds a gritty electronic beat to lead singer Wes Miles’ achingly gorgeous falsetto. And on “I Need Your Light,” he adds Vampire Weekend’s trademark synth orchestrations to an awesomely gritty drum groove. But even without that assist, Ra Ra Riot still make a joyful ruckus, best heard on the strutting rocker “Absolutely” and the funky, strings-and-things jam “Bouncy Castle.”

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