Though the members of Rah Rah didn’t know it at the time, it was prophetic when they named their 2008 debut full-length Going Steady. In the years since that album’s release, the Regina, SK-bred band has lived up its title with a relentless string of tours, albums and EPs. They’ve earned accolades and built a grassroots following through stunning live shows, all the while carving out a sound that spans uplifting indie rock and earthy folk and occasionally flirts with electronic influences and triumphant group-sung refrains.
The band first formed in 2007 with a stripped-down lineup that included Marshall Burns (vocals, guitar) and Erin Passmore (vocals, drums, keyboard, guitar). In the years that followed, it expanded with the addition of Kristina Hedlund (vocals, violin, keyboard, accordion), Joel Passmore (bass) and Jeff Romanyk (drums, keyboard, guitar). These members frequently swap instruments and trade off on lead vocals, resulting in a sound that seems far larger than the sum of its parts.
Their fourth album, Vessels was recorded with the production team of Gus Van Go and Werner F (who have also worked with Said the Whale, Hollerado, The Stills and more). The 11 songs that make up Vessels remain true to Rah Rah’s indie rock roots, but with a more refined style that plays to the band’s strengths by emphasizing catchy melodies and poignant, heartfelt lyrics. Opener “Be Your Man” begins the album with a surge of electric guitars, and Burns weaves a nostalgic tale of a lost love while his bandmates back him with handclaps and classic pop harmonies.
This sets the infectious tone for the album, as the keyboard-spiked catchiness of “Chip Off the Heart” is anchored by an urgent dance-rock pulse, and “Love That Sticks” and “Fix Me” blend wistful longing with hook-heavy bliss. Elsewhere, “Good Winter” and “First Night We Met” employ Rah Rah’s signature blend of autobiographical lyrics and ragged-glory guitar riffs, sounding like the spiritual successors to the prior single “Art & a Wife” (which appeared on previous LP The Poet’s Dead and landed on the Canadian rock/alternative chart in 2012).
The ensemble also pushes into new territory with the pulse-racing “Surgery,” which seamlessly combines frantic dance rhythms, spaghetti western guitar twang, and atmospheric baroque textures. From there, the album ends with the soaring, synth-dazzled expanse of “In Space.” It’s a yet another career highpoint for a band that has been going steady for the better part of a decade and shows no signs of slowing down.