Take a kid trained in the D.I.Y aesthetic of San-Francisco’s indie playground, drop him in the math rock/post-hardcore mecca that is San Diego, and you get the intensely honest musical musings of Rafter Roberts, otherwise known as Rafter. His latest release, Animal Feelings, is a bittersweet pop cavalcade of home production, soulful nods to Prince, and the indication he’s having a hell of a good time doing both.
Most of Rafter’s tracks bare a similar skeleton: start with a pounding wave of barebones percussion worthy of a Phil Collins jam session, and fill it in with simple, but fun instrumentation. “No Fucking Around,” “Fruit” and “Feels Good” show cute little shades of R&B while making use of the talkbox. In “Fruit,” Roberts’ layered falsetto in the chorus, funky guitar strums, and stomp-and-clap beat bare close resemblances to the aforementioned Prince’s “Kiss.”
Meanwhile, new-wave gems like “A Frame,” “Timeless Form, Formless Time,” “Paper” and “Beauty, Beauty” give a couple nods to Oingo Boingo and The Culture Club with horns and Afro-Caribbean percussion. Then we have “Never Gonna Die,” Rafter’s ode to the child-like upbringing he most likely experienced at his parents’ ex-semi-commune in which he was born. San Francisco still gets the best of him with these MGMT-like melodies and overall optimism.
What else can be said about Rafter’s Animal Feelings? It’s a fun and diverse record that more-or-less falls off the indie-pop radar when put up against other Spring and Summer releases. It and Rafter deserves their place in the sun.