After nearly 30 years of existence, you'd be forgiven for thinking veteran US indie rockers Eleventh Dream Day would be mellowing out a bit. After all, over the years they've seen their contemporaries achieve higher levels of success and cult statuses, split up then reform to play to bigger crowds than before (and probably get to curate ATP), while they've kept on going to less acclaim and reward. It takes mere seconds of opener 'Damned Tree' to dash this misconception. Based around a relentless, abrasive riff with singer Rick Rizzo threatening to "cut that damned tree down", the song feels like a runaway truck chasing the listener down. It's a mighty impressive opener and, while the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to the standards of the opener, it comes pretty close.

After such an impressive opening, the next two songs do little to keep the standards high. Both 'Cold Steel Grey' and 'Satellite' are functional, but end up feeling a little repetitive. A welcome change of pace comes in the form of 'That's What's Coming'. Clocking in at over six minutes long, it finds the band in a more thoughtful, plaintive mood, with a real sense of melancholy in the voice of Rizzo. Indeed, it's the more considered songs that make up the album's highlights, which ends strongly on two such tracks. 'Away With Words' skilfully pairs up Rizzo's vocals with that of drummer Janet Beveridge Bean over a sparse, delicate backdrop of gently lilting guitars. The result is entrancing. Closer 'Maybe This Time' is just a great pop song, carried along on a playful melody that kicks into a fizzy chorus.

The overall effect of this album is slightly dizzying. The band can clearly write some great songs; mid-album highlight 'Divining For Water' is the kind of summery indie-pop song, complete with "ba-ba-ba" vocals, that makes you wish you were driving on an open US highway, but the album feels slightly disjointed. You suspect that even something as simple as re-ordering the songs would make it feel more complete. As it is, Riot Now! is good, but feels inessential.

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