Release Date: Apr 16, 2013
Record label: Time No Place
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
It's a comparison that Rainbow Arabia are probably sick of, but there's no way of around it: they sound quite like The Knife. It's not just the way that, in certain breathless moments, Tiffany Preston's voice sounds similar to Karin Dreijer Andersson's—they also share a fondness for big, hollowed-out synth sounds. F.M. Sushi, the LA duo's second proper album, is precisely the kind of odd, engagingly raw synth pop that The Knife were trading in prior to Silent Shout.That might sound like damning Rainbow Arabia with feint praise.
A name like “Rainbow Arabia” comes armed with expectations: a childlike whimsy, a colorful disposition, and some sort of cultural appropriation are among things you’d likely chalk to up a group with the moniker. Their last album, 2010’s Boys and Diamonds, lived up to those first impressions: It was a collection of Orientalism-tinged ditties full of kid-friendly chants and West African melodies. But even when their songwriting was strong, they still felt more like an idea than a band.
Recently adding a third party to the matrimonial electronica duo has changed things up for Rainbow Arabia. Originally the act was couple Danny and Tiffany Preston, but between the release of their well-received 2011 debut Boys And Diamonds and the forthcoming FM Sushi, they added Dylan Ryan (of Cursive fame) to make the sparkly outfit a ménage à trois. They pleasantly surprised naysayers with their first offering – tinged with African and Asian influences it was a soothing respite from the haze of throttling chillwave.
Married duo Rainbow Arabia initially grew their music from a fascination with the more out-there aspects of international sounds, taking inspiration from the Sublime Frequencies label's compilations of rarefied trans-Atlantic underground and merging it with a unique take on '80s dance rhythms. When the duo's first recordings appeared in 2008, their dubby, polyrhythmic pop fit nicely with sample-friendly acts like High Places, Gang Gang Dance, or the Knife, but with more of a gothic past. Second album F.M.
On their debut LP, 2011's Boys and Diamonds, Rainbow Arabia bedecked secular synth pop with Arabic textures and polychromatic transmissions, placing the L.A. duo squarely on the path towards more ethereal, eclectic material. However, for their follow-up they decided to release FM Sushi, a waterlogged collection of synth-driven electro pop. Over ten tracks, vocalist Tiffany Preston manages to retain her pre-Blondie, post-Siouxsie film-noir delivery, stretching her melodies over husband Danny Preston's monophonic analogue rhythms.