Now and then, new music listeners can become complacent and search for the same kind of sound we already love. When this happens, we need artists like Hurray for the Riff Raff to shake us awake and remind listeners to stay vitally connected to the world around them. This American band led by Alynda Segarra had to eliminate the folk elements from their music to get the world’s attention, and their push into the spotlight is thoroughly refreshing to see. As their new album Life On Earth addresses the unrest of humanity with a radical cry for the necessary steps towards survival, Segarra demonstrates the potential power of meaningful music, resulting in a record that should be heard by all who have experienced life on this planet.
Segarra’s Heavy-Hitting Musical Adages
As soon as the opening synths and propulsive beat of “Wolves” begin the album, Hurray for the Riff Raff instantly transports the listener into the complex atmosphere of Life on Earth. Segarra’s songs often blend palatable instrumentation with captivating performances and starkly cutting lyrics, like the repetitive mantras of “it’s not safe at home anymore” and “you gotta run, babe, you know how to run.” Every song has a similarly remarkable impact but with thrilling variety. Singles “Pierced Arrows” and “Rhododendron” contrast different forms of menace to highlight their messages, with the former employing an ominous drone and the latter emphasizing a DIY-punk atonality in Segarra’s voice.
The Softer Side of ‘Life on Earth,’ No Less Significant
Much of the remaining tracks take time to sink in musically, but in the moments of quiet, some even more crucial facets reveal themselves. “Jupiter’s Dance” is the most ethereal song, leaning into hopefully despite the overwhelming darkness, and “Nightqueen” is almost entirely a vocal and lyrical showcase, dripping with slow-burning beauty and raw emotion. The most impressive feat is the identifiably-modern, nearly-tuneless tale of “Precious Cargo,” which openly criticizes the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a socially-minded protest song reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s.
The Verdict on ‘Life on Earth’
The necessary music release of 2022 will undoubtedly go down as one of the best of the year. Without even one weak song, Life On Earth is the perfect record right now for simultaneous musical enjoyment and urgent assertions of topical messages. Hurray for the Riff Raff's self-described “nature punk” is not a traditionally sonic label but rather a state of mind. Segarra uses the same kind of rallying cry shouted by the old punks that said if we can break into even one person’s mind, the effort will have been worthwhile.