New York-via-Boston indie rockers Hooray for Earth sidestepped the '90s worship partaken by some of their peers around the time of their 2011 debut, True Loves, opting instead for a blend of hard-edged guitars and decidedly soft-hearted synthesizer pop more informed by the eternal melodic heart of the '80s than the grunge revival of the early 2010s. That album found the band blurring synth lines and enormous electro beats with hyper-hooky songs, finding similar re-envisionings of '80s radio pop as those dreamed up by MGMT, M83, or even later-period Strokes. Second album Racy takes steps away from the sometimes subdued feel of True Loves, offering a slightly beefier but no less catchy breed of pop. The album starts with "Hey," a wall of towering distorted guitars and stadium-sized vocal harmonies. This song is a good tone-setter for the songs that follow. "Keys" twists a Tears for Fears bassline and song structure into something far grittier, with enormous guitars, pounding drums, and psychedelic solos wrapping around more petite melodies and vocal harmonies. This song and other tunes like the driving "Somewhere Else" and the swaying, syrupy title track manage to sound aggressive and carefree at the same time, using heavier instrumentation to support friendly, well-crafted pop melodies. Lead vocalist/songwriter/instrumentalist Noel Heroux wrote, recorded, and played most of the instruments on the band's debut, ending up with a fairly pristine final product, but one that sounded like it was created in some kind of private vacuum. Racy sounds more like the work of a living, breathing band. Whether indulging in the feedback-laden side of things on heavier tunes like "Airs" or more straightforward synth workouts like "Last, First" (which in some moments bears a passing resemblance to Toto's enormous 1982 hit "Africa"), the members of Hooray for Earth are locked in with each other and offer up a riskier, more mind-expanding take on their formerly polite sound.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas