Prolific Maryland-based musician Sam Ray is well regarded in certain indie rock circles for his bands Teen Suicide and Julia Brown, but his most celebrated venture might be his electronic solo project Ricky Eat Acid, which has been a flagship act of cult lo-fi label Orchid Tapes since the release of You Get Sick; You Regret Things in 2012. Ray's work as Ricky Eat Acid is hard to categorize, as it's not quite ambient, dance, chillwave, dream pop, or any other style, as loosely defined as they may be. It's very abstract and surrealist, but Ray does place an emphasis on melodies, even if they have a tendency to meander and drift weightlessly. When beats appear, they're informed by trap, trip-hop, house, and occasionally more aggressive styles such as juke or drill'n'bass. REA made its vinyl debut with 2014's Three Love Songs, a lovely album that almost immediately became a word-of-mouth cult classic, quickly selling out its limited vinyl pressings. For its highly anticipated follow-up, REA signed with Grizzly Bear-affiliated Terrible Records. Talk to You Soon continues in the same direction as its predecessor, but it's significantly more focused, even as it still appears to float on a cloud. There are more vocals here, including guest appearances by Caroline White and Spencer Radcliffe, as well as pitch-shifted, scattered vocals that are presumably from Ray himself. Owen Pallett provides string arrangements, so it's no surprise that the album has more of a dramatic, cinematic scope than Three Love Songs. The beats are definitely closer to the forefront here than on that album, although other REA releases have reflected more of a hip-hop influence. "Nice to See You" engages in wonky Flying Lotus-style beat science, while "Climbing Up the Big Red Tree" offsets breakcore-speed glitch shrapnel with pretty music box melodies. The album constantly walks a line between poignant, innocent longing and traumatic expressions of fear and anxiety, but it tips over the edge with the cathartic "As We Speak," a collaboration with noise/metal group Wreck & Reference. The song begins with harsh, distorted vocals reminiscent of Prurient as well as footwork-like pounding bass. By the end, however, it mutates into some sort of warped rave track with heavy U.K. garage bass and ecstatic kick drums. Talk to You Soon is a dramatic leap forward for Ricky Eat Acid, and easily Sam Ray's most accomplished work yet.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson