The Rational Academy: A Heart Against Your Own
Someone Good

The Rational Academy's A Heart Against Your Own begins with a dreamy slice of electro-pop swoon titled “The Author” but just as one's about to file the band's debut album (at thirty-three minutes, more a mini-album) under pop, band co-leaders Meredith McHugh and Benjamin Thompson twist things around with the wistful indie-pop-meets-shoegaze squalor of “JoJoPlanteen” (“Remember summers on your lawn then back inside to dry off / I drew pentagrams on your arm, smoked, and made out in your garage”), the Charalambides-Valet folk-psychedelia of “David,” and lo-fi grunge of “Two Books” (the band even spends the latter's closing minutes in Frippertronics mode). Of the seven songs presented, it's the episodic “Squid & Whale” which makes the strongest impression when feathery vocal melodies nicely intertwine with a small army of Television-styled six-strings in its opening half, and a cyclonic noisescape materializes in the second. Citing Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Deerhoof, Pavement, and Deerhunter as influences helps explain The Rational Academy's avant-pop sensibility while the involvement of ROOM40 head Lawrence English in a producing role at least partially explains the material's experimental leanings. McHugh and Thompson (and fellow TRA band members synth player Oliver Mackay and bassist Matt Jonas) flesh out their sound with English's electronics, Ben Frost's guitar, and tape loops from For Barry Ray duo Carina Thorén and John Chantler.

May 2008