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CD review: Ra Ra Rasputin's 'Ra Ra Rasputin'

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Back when making pop music with synthesizers was a new idea, one common gambit was to contrast shrill instrumentation with a deep-voiced singer. Ra Ra Rasputin emulates that approach, and Brock Boss's vocals couldn't be better suited. But on the local quartet's self-titled debut, the synth-pop moves can sound a little too familiar. Fortunately, the group varies the formula with guitars, bass and a female singer, Anna Rozzi.

Although Ra Ra Rasputin's members are too young to have experienced the early days of disco and electro-pop, they've clearly done research. The group is named for Boney M.'s "Rasputin," a 1978 hit that extols the mad monk as a great lover. Passion is also a major concern of this seven-song mini-album, despite such oblique song titles as "Accumulator" and "Stereo Cutter."

The latter extols love that "shines right on through," and a similar metaphor fuels "Electricity Through the Heart." But it's not the lyric that makes this the standout track. The song best illustrates the band's diverse timbres, blending synths with the other instruments and giving Rozzi her biggest vocal showcase. "Ra Ra Rasputin" is strongest when the quartet uses its '80s influences only as a foundation and then builds something fresh above it.

- Mark Jenkins


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