The album will no doubt be labeled as “mature”. And, pigeon-holing notwithstanding, it’s pretty much true – Rah Rah have grown into their sound, not out of it. Still, no matter how many suits and ties and formal gowns that band chooses to wear in their press photos, that sense of afternoon adventure club has not been lost.
The focus of the music is still rooted between deeply layered driving indie pop and orchestral noodling, all the while keeping things fun and bouncy.
Lead track “Art & a Wife”, whether they meant it or not, is a coming-of-age anthem for Rah Rah. Slightly goofy with rhyming lyrics, the song details the rise of the band amidst all the obligatory behavior of touring and drinking and now having a burning itch to settle down.
You and me both buddy.
Additionally, the packaging itself is a testament to a band that got their shit together. The Poet’s Dead is an excellent follow up to the band’s previous work and is hopefully a sign for more greatness, and tasteful growing up, to come.
The Poet’s Dead is a loose concept album about why each member loves being a musician. The album’s opening track and lead single, “Art & a Wife” is basically the life story of Marshall Burns as a musician. He sings about his early years playing guitar simply because he had a guitar then developing that interest into an actual art. While the song occasionally inartfully states things (ie. “then I got a band/we drove around in a van/we played some shows, made some fans/we crushed a few cans/we drove around in a van”), it’s catchy chorus and joyous vibe makes it an album highlight.
Another of the album’s highlights, “20s” is about the plight of being an aging musician. Music is a young person’s game and singer, Kristina Hedlund knows it. She sings in the song’s chorus “I spent my twenties on rock ‘n’ roll/I’ll spend my 30s feeling old.” Although the song hints that she is currently in her twenties, it shows that she expects to still be making music in her thirties, even if she risks being out of place.
It is that type of commitment to art that is expressed throughout the album. It becomes fun to listen to a band that wants to sing about how much they like being in a band. By only singing about music, Rah Rah makes an album that is as joyous as it is catchy. Although it probably will not go platinum, The Poet’s Dead‘s catchy choruses and well-written lyrics will certainly resonate with many listeners. Mission accomplished Rah Rah.