It's a little hard to resist the relentlessly upbeat and youthful Rolling Blackouts. There sure is a lot going on, and a lot you could talk about. The intentionally poor mixing, the female vocals, the rap numbers, the horn sections that sound like a high school band on speed, the instrumental cuts, the straight-up pop...
Let's start from the beginning. This album is mixed in a way that couldn't be anything but purposeful. So does this actually help the music or is it just some misguided gimmick? I'd definitely lean toward the former. The mixing adds to the ridiculously youth-y sound the band has going for it, and on songs where there's a lot of stuff going on (Secretary Song for example) it just makes it sounds like there's even more stuff going on. Which makes it a little overwhelming, in a good way. The vocals are entirely female; ranging from random outcries to the poppiest of pop to straight-up rap. Speaking of which, as a hip hop fan, I have to say the songs with rapping are especially enjoyable. It's impossible for me not to approach something like Voice Yr Choice differently than I would any other rap song, and that being the case, it's a hell of a rap song. The rapping itself is completely typical, but the indie production is such a fresh spin on things. One thing I'm surprised by is just how typical the rapping is. If you heard an indie electronic album had rapping on it, you'd probably imagine the rapping being at least unique, if not completely off-kilter, but no, the rapper brags about her skills, references clubs, and says she's tearing up the underground, among other cliches. I don't think this is a bad thing at all; the rapping being as it is just adds to the charm as far as I'm concerned.
Moving on, the horns. Like I said, high school band on speed. Bust-Out Brigade definitely sounds like what a football team would enter to in some more cheery alternate dimension. It's also the first instrumental song out of four, which are all surprisingly good and break the album up nicely, while remaining good standalone songs. Finally, the most poppy numbers: Ready to Go Steady is so overtly pop that it's almost off putting for a second, but it's completely infectious, as is lead single Buy Nothing Day.
Honestly, I'm almost surprised this album is as good as it is. For real, I was a little (pleasantly) surprised at first by the sound, and thought there were a few great songs, but multiple listens revealed that this album is completely consistent; I can't really knock a single track. Every song here is deserving of praise; and whether they're doing rap, pop, or instrumental, the group excels. Their joy is borderline contagious (though the album can wear on you if you're not in the mood) and the songs are flat-out catchy. Despite the plethora of sounds and styles on the album, the whole youthful upbeat thing permeates through every one of them and holds the entire thing together quite nicely.