For ever indie record, you can expect one thing: a specific aesthetic. In Hurray For The Riff Raff's newest record The Navigator, you can find indie joy mixed with the adventure of being in a city.
The album is full of warm indie sounds that provide for a fun listen. 'Living In The City' brings the first tastes of the city motif to the album, all the while providing a lo-fi, almost surfer rock vibe to the track with its sparse instrumentation. Most songs can at least say they are rooted in a similar sound, but each track has a specifically different vibe in them. For example, the track that follows it, 'Hungry Ghost,' has a similar instrumentation but is much more driven and has a more distinct sense of confidence in it.
The slower and moodier tracks on this record definitely have a more succinct power to them, though. Few things can top a good indie acoustic track. That comes in the form of 'Halfway There' on The Navigator, with its bluegrass instrumental and melodies backed by a choir, bringing it straight to the south. It sounds like something you'd play while you watched the sun set. 'Rican Beach' follows up with more instrumentation but a similarly folky melody and loads of groove paired with it. Title track 'The Navigator' brings the moodiness from 'Rican Beach' and the slowness of 'Halfway There' to make a groovy The Last Shadow Puppets reminiscent track.
There are plenty of times on The Navigator, however, that don't really live up to many expectations you may have for the album. The indie sounds are really overdone in tracks like 'Nothing's Gonna Change That Girl,' which tries much too hard to bridge the album's folk roots with the indie rock sound. It all starts off nice, but as the super twangy and distorted guitar comes in above the otherwise pretty and confident instrumental, it really drags the track down. Opening number 'Entrance' is a pretty lame introduction to the album as well, and when it is reprised at the end in 'Finale,' it just sounds spiced up a bit to make it slightly more meaty. The call-to-arms style ending of 'Pa'lante' would've been a much more fitting ending.
The Navigator is the story of a wandering soul at the crossroads of decisions. There are so many paths to travel down that the right one can be hard to find. That's all of what The Navigator is about - traveling down a path and finding out whether or not it's the right one. Of course, not all of the music is perfect, but the message is sound. You'll find indie joy in Hurray For The Riff Raff's new album, and perhaps even some comfort as you work your way through life. A guiding hand won't hurt on the journey.
Favorite Tracks: Halfway There, Rican Beach, The Navigator
Least Favorite Tracks: Entrance, Nothing's Gonna Change This Girl, Finale
Rating: 73 / 100
Buy or listen to The Navigator here: