Roz and the Ricecakes’ new album, Need to Feed, opens with a blistering soundscape. Sounds echo and drone across an infinite, cosmic expanse while Roz Raskin’s voice bleeds in, pushing everything to the point where you feel it in your gut and your speakers strain against the raw sonic power. The scope of that first track, “The Birds,” is massive and as each new sound builds of of the last it’s clear that this is different in the Ricecake camp.
The Ricecakes have always sat confidently behind the stick of their pop-prog rocket, piloting it expertly across an album and several EPs, injecting their music with a constantly bright, youthful energy. From the get-go that the Roz and the Ricecakes sound has existed, it is self-assured in knowing that even as the band continues to evolve there seems to be a single, common source all of their music can be traced back to. That still applies, but Need to Feed feels bolder, more daring. It feels like the band has boldly gone where no Ricecake has gone before.
If “The Birds” is an ambient rush through sound and space, than “Castle” is an atmospheric re-entry, buffering up against oddball time changes that keep the listener guessing while Roz Raskin, Casey Belisle and Justin Foster dance around one another. Landing on sonic terra firma brings us to the title track, “Need To Feed,” where Raskin’s spine tingling keys and haunting “oohs” set up a richly textured pop ballad that wonderfully demonstrates the themes and new directions on display throughout the record.
The rest of the album plays out similarly varied as the band deftly alternates between wide, open sound spaces and claustrophobic moments of intimacy. “Follow Suit” will make your soul weep, “Hay Fever” will make it want to rip out of your body and dance. One songs seeps into another with hard static, another with a panning “wub wub wub,” only to find a soft warm sound on the other side. It’s a kitchen sink record and the fact that it works so beautifully is a testament to its creators.
“Trying to create an album that has a similar feel the whole time just isn’t who we are,” says Justin.
“Everything that we’ve put out so far we’re really proud of,” adds Casey, “But it’s always been pretty tiny. Three songs, six songs. But for this release it was really the three of us working together to try to figure it out. We’re hungry.”
Hunger is a recurring lyrical theme throughout the album, in both the literal and figurative sense, and even comes across in the instrumentation. That big, daring boldness in sound suggests a grab at next-level creative fulfillment.
“I remember going through the lyrics and everything had to do with grabbing at something, overusing, obsession,” explains Roz. “We’ve been going so hard as a band, and we want so badly to make this what our lives are, I feel like there’s a hunger there.”
That hunger is hardly one-sided. After shelling out to record the album, the band turned to Kickstarter and the kindness of strangers to secure funds for mixing, mastering and the pressing the album to CD and vinyl. They gave themselves 45 days to raise $5,000. They got it in seven.
“I know that we have a fan base, but it was very comforting to know that people cared that much,” says Roz. “People trusted us to do something awesome with it.”
Awesome would be a modest assessment. Need to Feed is a force to be reckoned with and a reminder that great things happen in our own backyard. It’s a record that will take you places and demands to be given your full attention. Shut your eyes, pop on a good set of headphones and let your ears eat their fill.
Need to Feed official release April 4 with The Low Anthem and Dr. Jones & The Shiners at The Met.