The second installment of RAC’s two-part debut album, Strangers II, is a stark departure from the band’s previous work of creating peppy, electronic remixes for other popular artists. Then again, as this record drives home—change isn’t always a bad thing.
RAC, an acronym for the Remix Artist Collective, used Strangers II as a canvas to explore a slightly darker, yet still heavily electronics-driven, side of their music. Songs like “I Should’ve Guessed” and “Ready For It” manage to describe rather unpleasant scenarios in awfully positive ways. The former describes someone with severe depression while the latter explains a discreet affair—however, you can’t help bobbing your head and tapping your feet to the up-tempo, synth-driven beats in both songs.
It’s almost like Bugs Bunny describing a crime scene: you’re not sure whether to laugh him off or take him seriously, regardless of how absurd he may appear. More than one track on this album combines late-80s discotheque beats and floating, high-pitched female vocals, which only adds to this strange, strange dichotomy of gloomy lyrics and funky music.
But this album is not just an exercise in melodic depression. For every faux-goth track with themes of loss and pain, there are just as many classic feel-good summer tracks. For instance, take “405,” a catchy, groovy song that paints an allegorical picture of a California highway. It refers to “friends I’ve yet to meet” and talks about the simple joys of “going for a ride,” which takes on several meanings in the context of this song.
The same is true of the final track, “Cheap Sunglasses,” which brings an unusually Caribbean feeling to the tale of a playboy, with an emphatic xylophone and the mystifying command, “No cigarette for you.”
Ultimately, I think RAC is still working out their kinks as a group making their own music, instead of just remixing what other musicians have already put out. And, perhaps understandably, this novelty showed in Strangers II. But who am I to complain? RAC’s songs are (by and large) fun, the album is tightly produced, and I’m seriously looking forward to what they come up with next.
Voice’s Choices: “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Repeating Motion”