Ra Ra Riot

09/03/2008 12:00 AM |

This time last year, Ra Ra Riot had resumed playing shows following the death of their drummer, John Pike, who disappeared from a house party in Massachusetts and drowned in a nearby bay. At the time, they were touring on an energetic, promising EP, at a point where most bands choose to either call it quits or finally commit to launching a career. Following Pike’s death, the remaining members kept touring constantly, and now, out of the same period of weirdness and uncertainty, comes their first full-length. The EP had a strain of melancholy, but it was a bouncy record too, packed with tons of great melodies and arranged cleverly enough to resemble a band similarly situated last summer: Vampire Weekend. The Rhumb Line doesn’t really move beyond that — the liveliest four songs are rerecorded tracks from the EP, and the new ones (some with lyrics by Pike) might as well be. It’s an upbeat tribute mostly absent the sense of tragedy one might expect from a band that’s weathered more in their first couple years than most do over entire careers.