Roz and the Rice Cakes

Devotion

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Led by Roz Raskin, a nimble vocalist who counts Gwen Stefani among her biggest influences (and she sounds a little like her, too), Rhode Island's Roz and the Rice Cakes released a debut in 2014 that introduced an intricate yet catchy experimental indie pop. Three years later, they strengthen those same qualities on their more vivid follow-up, Devotion. A track like "Open Eyes" starts with a muscular vocal melody over an exposed rhythm section that quickly establishes irregular time signatures before adding melodic, syncopated guitar. Despite lengthy instrumental passages, amorphous forms, and shifting rhythms, it lands like an uptempo dance-pop tune due to the band's ability to keep the big picture simple and accommodate tapping feet. After a vocal intro, the more straightforward "Do You" instead settles in to a steady groove and focuses on texture. The song's electronics range from siren-like tones to pillowy arpeggiated pulses and stuttering horn timbres. Raskin's heartfelt melody ("The silence buries/Buries us") and, again, off-kilter but entirely danceable drums make it play out like a pop song, if one with above-average attention to detail. Meanwhile, closing track "East Coast" is a more reflective entry, with simple electronic drums and keyboard accompaniment that put the spotlight on songwriting. It's the kind of album where drawing attention to its versatility and complexity probably doesn't add to the listening experience. At the same time, those details are part of a balancing act that sets Roz and the Rice Cakes apart from many pop, electronic, and indie rock acts -- as they juggle elements of all three.

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