A Night at the Ritz

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Office quickly establishes itself as a member of the dance rock family on A Night at the Ritz, the group's label debut after self-releasing Q&A in 2005. Office combines the solid beats of Franz Ferdinand with the Bravery's haunting vocal delivery, but more closely resembles the Kaiser Chiefs both musically and lyrically by juxtaposing light, catchy melodies with lyrics that subtly lament modern life and society. The icing on the cake comes from the background harmonies provided by Erica Corniel, Alissa Hacker, and Jessica Gonyea; the end result resembles a dance party as hosted by Arcade Fire. While obviously indebted to these contemporaries, however, the Midwestern roots of Office give A Night at the Ritz a warm, easy, unpretentious feel that could make it more inviting -- and possibly appealing -- to casual club-goers and indie rock fans alike. Overall, the band's sound is sweet, if not terribly deep -- even breakup ballad "+/- Fairytale" is upbeat enough musically that it's easy to miss the meaning of the lyrics. Their heavy reliance on prominent backbeats and danceable grooves becomes noticeably repetitive by the middle of the album, a problem that is remedied by three songs that are mysteriously relegated to the album's end. "Paralyzed Prince" and "Dominoes" both feature tight vocal harmonies and vaudeville-tinged piano that call to mind Mika, Duke Special, and even shades of Queen. Add the breezy and refreshing closer "Suburban Perfume" to the equation and it seems that Office has more to say, but may be hesitant to give too much of the game away too early -- or maybe they're simply hinting at their potential scope.

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