ra-ra-artRa Ra RiotNeed Your Light
19 February 2016
By: Meghan Kearney


It’s been a bit since I’ve fallen in love with a Ra Ra Riot record. Shamefully, about 7 years to be exact. As I write this, I have now listened to Need Your Light once through, and that is all I’ll need to conclude this is exactly what I need from this band. In sadness, I’m not sure why I couldn’t fall in love with the past two records. But this one is an instant grabber. It’s upbeat. It’s dancy. It’s got sounds of the 70’s legends embedded throughout. And it is unavoidably fun. It’s completed by a subtle theme of dark, unrequited love and longing kind of lyrics, buried deep under the joyous sounds spanning the record.

The record opens with “Water” the single that without a doubt forced my growing anticipation for Need Your Light. The track welcomed Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij on collab, so if you were a fan of Discovery, this is a welcomed reunion. The music video, in addition, is an aesthetically beautiful walkabout with the undeniably handsome Wes Miles, while the rest of Ra Ra Riot walks, dances, and skates around him.  Not to mention that St. Louis tee is as much a part of Ra Ra Riot as the band members themselves at this point (WINKY face).

“Water” has that hook that’ll get stuck in your head without your permission and next thing you know it’s on repeat. It’s a song about being trapped in love and jumping into the ocean to swim away from it, and who can’t relate to that? At least in a metaphorical sense. Lyrics “don’t punish me for what I feel” and “I’ve been sleeping on your porch, I’m still too scared to bust the lock on your door” feel charmingly, painfully innocent.

Next up is “Absolutely,” a song that sets the tone for the party of optimistic sound throughout the record. Synths and guitar join Wes’ graceful vocals “It’s the year of absolutely being absolutely nothing. Absolutely crushing, absolutely everything.” Though it feels like something you might find on one of those motivational posters, this track is going to make you smile and possibly power you through, absolutely anything you need to power through. Here we get a kick of those Ra Ra Riot strings that first set them apart from much of the indie rock coming out when they first joined the scene, and what has always been so lovable about them.

Another gorgeous track on the record, title-ish track “I Need Your Light” again featuring Rostam. A heavy drum-beat, almost pop-ballad, is heartbreaking in a way, again hitting that theme of longing weaved throughout the tracks. Ending with a beautiful synthy breakdown. “Call Me Out” is another extremely catchy, stringy track, where Wes’ vocals are partially nostalgic of Rhumb Line and partially feel like some 70’s pop rock, with choral backing vocals sealing that deal (seriously there’s a really un-hateable Steve Perry/Journey vibe on this).

The end of the record continues the 70’s vibe with “Every Time I’m Ready to Hug” switching in between bluesy rock verses and even more 70’s pop-rock in the chorus, while “Bouncy Castle” is so power-synthy that it feels like some sort of Beatles/ABBA love child. The record closes with “Suckers,” a strangely awesome combo of classic RRR sounds, over something you’d find on a Rod Stewart greatest hits record.

Overall, Need Your Light is something very different for the group. It’s much noisier, much dancier, and plays around with so many nostalgic sounds. But the lovable vocals and small bursts of strings are unmistakably Ra Ra Riot. These guys have been making music for nearing a decade now; Need Your Light could very well be the record that finally gets them some serious notoriety.

Along with the release of the record, Ra Ra Riot hits the road March 2nd in Albany, NY. You can catch them in the PNW on March 30th at Neumo’s in Seattle, March 31st at Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver BC, and April 1st at Revolution Hall in Portland.

Throwing in this old school video because it is still one of my favorites on the internet. Ra Ra Riot, Rhumb Line days + St. Louis tee.