Rah Rah - Poet's Dead - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Rah Rah - Poet's Dead

by Rob Taylor Rating:7.5 Release Date:2012-10-22

Rah Rah are from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, which was once a tent settlement on a treeless plain. The settlers planted hundreds of thousands of trees, and dammed the waterways to create a feature lake. Now this prairie town is quite prosperous. According to the history I read: “The residents are proud of the city they've built, and welcome visitors warmly with handshakes, helpful advice and genuine smiles”


Coincidental then, that 'Rah Rah' translates as 'ardently enthusiastic, and marked by boisterous and uncritical enthusiasm' ? These are the qualities distilled in the body of music on The Poet's Dead, an album written in 2011, but only now reaching the UK shores. Not the Australian one it seems, but after our Prime Minister's recent gaff about “Canadia” being a great ally, we're probably off the export list. It was a long flight.


I'd never heard of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, nor Rah Rah before two weeks ago. One imagines that, if they had hailed instead from Vancouver (like The New Pornographers), or Montreal (like Arcade Fire), or Toronto (The Broken Social Scene collective), they may have gained more international exposure. The music is, in spirit and composition, very close to the approach of the aforementioned bands, so if you like their music, you will undoubtedly like Rah Rah.


The Poet's Dead was nominated for alternative album of the year in 2011, and earned some sort of accolade from iTunes, ordinarily a signal that your career is destined for the shit heap. Not Rah Rah's fault because, in fact, they are very talented songwriters and musicians.


The ethos of Rah Rah is very similar to the mentioned Canadian bands. A collective and democratic pooling of talents, alternating female/male vocals, beautiful harmonising, easy melodies, and some cheery ruminations on life.


Some of the lyrics are slightly dodgy, like: "Spending my 20s on rock 'n' roll/ and my 30s feeling old'. They lost me on that one because my 30s were marked by reckless partying, although I grew up in a major city, not a prairie, and who knows, maybe a hard-toiling protestant ethic leads to premature ageing? The offending song '20s', though, is every bit as good as anything off The New Pornographers' album Twin Cinema. Ditto tracks 'I'm a Killer' and 'The Poet's Dead'.


There are definitely parallels here between Carl Newman/Neko Case, and Erin Passmore/Marshall Burns, with the main difference being that Passmore's songs soar with rock 'n' roll intensity, whereas Burns' songs have more alt-country underpinnings. So, there is more variation than your average Canadian colllective. Passmore's ringing mezzo soprano has a slightly warmer timbre than Neko Case's, and weaves harmonies just as compellingly.


Its not hard to see why the band or their agents are pushing the fortunes of The Poet's Dead across the Atlantic. Its an album deserving wider attention. The perfect remedy for end-of-week malaise. Recommended alongside Jad Fair and Danielson's recent effort, Solid Gold Heart for melodic indie-pop without a semblance of cynicism. 

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