Hurray For The Riff Raff Proves Soaring & Haunting On Pop Leaning ‘Life On Earth’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Alynda Lee Segarra who performs as Hurray For The Riff Raff has released increasingly strong albums starting with 2014’s protest-folk Small Town Heroes, 2017’s identity searching The Navigator, and now the more synth-based, pop-leaning Life on Earth.  

Segarra has a voice that is both stunning and reassuring; expertly delivering thought-provoking lyrics around these eleven Brad Cox (Waxahatchee, Bon Iver, Kevin Morby) produced tracks. They sing with an ease that can flutter, drive sensually, or soar with power, sometimes from line to line. From the opening “WOLVES” the cool synths beats, and layers of sound support Segarra’s strong singing while they get down with minimalist dance beats and breathy vocals on the cosmic “JUPITER’S DANCE”.

In the middle of Life On Earth, the musical support recedes. The title track lets Segarra’s voice take the spotlight on a piano ballad, while “nightqueen” uses slow rising sounds, yet pairing these two tracks back to back dulls the flow of the album overall. The odd combo of digital bleeps and New Orleans warm horns gives “ROSEMARY TEARS” a distant feel, but when they move to the spoken word/hip-hop/sampled sound of “PRECIOUS CARGO” the tale of immigration, inhumane conditions and the fight for a better life strikes a powerful nerve.  

Mix Segarra’s vocals with strong instrumentation and the results are intoxicating. The cool neon pulsing slap of “PIERCED ARROWS” deals with loneliness in a big city around a soaring finale while the self-crucifixion of “POINTED AT THE SUN” uses over the top pop flair to great success with lyrical holy motifs. Both “RHODODENDRON” and “SAGA” also use more of an acoustic folk/pop strumming to great success as Segarra balances a sense of hope in the future with the tribulations and heartbreak of today. 

Life On Earth is a continuation of Hurray For The Riff Raff’s upward projection, ideally breaking her out to a larger listening audience, as Segarra’s voice dominates while musical surroundings ebb and flow in both natural and haunting fashion.            

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