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CD REVIEW: Ra Ra Riot's The Orchard

THE DEAL: Syracuse, N.Y.'s Ra Ra Riot submits its second offering and first since 2008's The Rhumb Line. Mixed by Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie.

THE GOOD: Lead vocalist Wes Miles' falsetto voice and violinist Rebecca Zeller's melancholic instrumentation. The two are always in tune together and complement each other's talents, which helps provide a window between the vocalization and the instrument playing where you can lose yourself in the beauty of the happy/sad resonance. This happens on almost all of the album, but is highlighted on the title track with Zeller's symphonic touch and Miles' dark lyrics. "Boy" and "Shadowcasting" are rare upbeat, radio-friendly feel-good songs that stand out. Walla's mixing enhanced the album tremendously with the meshing of all the stringed instruments and Miles' voice.

THE BAD: Most of Miles' brooding lyrics deal with the same subject matter of being introspective and battling one's demons while trying to have relations with others that go terribly wrong. It can get monotonous and depressing after awhile, but if that's your cup of tea then break out the razor blades and have a party with it.

THE VERDICT: It is a well-constructed album. It may be difficult to duplicate the ambiance and acoustics you receive from listening to the CD in a live environment. If you liked the pop rock scene of the 2000s, but with a high-pitched voice accompanied by a cello and violin, then you'll enjoy this.

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