Last year’s self titled release was a fun filled chunk of wonky pop that burrowed itself firmly into our heads. Now the RA-6600 are back with the full length Indiana Lights.
From the opening title track, it’s business as usual, with the classic Ben Folds-esque piano, ever so slightly distant vocals that cause the listener to bend their ear closer. There are flecks of ELO to be found with the satisfying chimes from the cymbals. ‘Hammerhead’ takes a steady piano two-chord riff and adds a descending bass line that makes for some breezy fun. Add to that some cheeky lyrics with references to nudity, you’ll be sure to be muttering the phrase “Hammerhead, woo-hoo,” for the rest of the day. ‘Walk Into The Air’ positively drips with nostalgia, the chorus on the vocal creating a glorious Leslie-speaker-esque sound and wistful lyrics; “Whenever you hold me / Stars will shine.”
It’s hard to define exactly what it is about the RA-6600 that makes their sound so enigmatic and attractive. Could it be the sheer simplicity, the willingness to strip away a lot of he bells and whistles, and stick to a few specific stylistic approaches that makes their sound so distinctive? Perhaps. But underneath it all there is the sense that this is the sound of music being made for the love of it. Not only that but music that wants to shine a light on all that is good and so enjoyable about the tunes that we have all known and loved from the past. Where other bands simply ape their influences, here we have a selection of songs that not only are offered very much on their own terms, but also invite the listener to play a kind of ‘Spot the reference’. Occasionally a particular sound or tone will jump out, causing you to think “Oh! What does that remind me of?” without ever being a direct lift from another song.
Turn to ‘Out Til All Hours’ and we are treated to a more scuttling, dusty sound, with drums that patter along and match the tone of the song’s sentiment perfectly, as though the drums themselves have been out all night are are now trying to tiredly drag themselves back home. The wooziness wears off soon enough once we find ourselves in ‘I’ll Be There For You’, a song that feels as though it has intentionally turned up the BPM oh so slightly. The song belts along at a rapid rate, with the vocals fizzing at the edges a little, and the drums feeling as though they could go out of control at any moment – in a fun way.
Closing track ‘Running Away’ is something of a surprise, employing the classic four chords that are found on tracks from ‘Hey Jude’,’Where Is The Love’ and countless others. The use of this standard allows for the song to try something different – in this case, a laid back rap that is as tongue-in-cheek as it is well meaning. It’s all fine – The RA-6600 are back and everything is so much the better for it.