Ra Ra Riot wants to come in from the cold. “Can You Tell,” the new video from the Syracuse-based band, finds them camped out in the snow-covered yard of a suburban house. In a futile attempt to convince the unnamed occupant of the house to let them in, they bring flowers, bang on the door and deliver sweet indie pop into their ears.
The band’s failure to get inside is certainly not for lack of trying. The offer of numerous varieties of flowers certainly doesn’t work. By the end of the video the ground is littered with the torn up remains of various bouquets. That’s very sad, but look on the bright side: now they can make potpourri! Just as ineffective is their banging on the door. This isn’t just any banging; at one point the drummer actually gets his sticks out and hits them against the door. Go ahead and insert a joke here about music breaking down doors.
Having failed to get into the house, the band contents itself with a live performance of the song in the freezing yard. Sweet and melodic, “Can You Tell” offers a less angst-ridden version of the Arcade Fire’s orchestral pop. By playing it in the snowy environment of the video, the string-heavy group proves Yo-Yo Ma ’76 wrong by showing that a cello can in fact be played outside in the cold. Maybe they should be hired for the next Inauguration.
While it is unlikely that Ra Ra Riot will be playing on Capitol Hill in 2012, if they keep making songs as good as this they should certainly graduate to mainstream acceptance. The whole getting into the house thing could very easily be a metaphor for their attempt to break through into the public consciousness. “Have I been too discrete?” frontman Wes Miles asks, and the answer has to be a resounding no. We get the message that you want someone to open the door. Hopefully one day someone will actually get around to it.