Something intriguing happens on “Doing the Most,” RDGLDGRN‘s high-wattage collaboration with producers Dave Grohl and Pharrell Williams. At first, frontman Green sings longingly over a straightforward electronic pop track. Then, suddenly, the song breaks into a raucous go-go jam accentuated by Grohl’s snare-heavy percussion and Red‘s well-timed guitar stabs. For the band, it’s a perfect blend of old and new: Fans of The Five One (the group’s old band) will appreciate the song’s wafting Caribbean ethos, go-go listeners will identify with the track’s clackety rhythms, and anyone who enjoys hearing drums being hit very, very hard will be glad Grohl is behind the kit.
Out today, RDGLDGRN’s Red Gold Green EP is an impressive marriage of go-go and indie rock. Aside from “Million Fans,” which sounds a lot like this song, the Reston, Va., trio builds upon go-go’s foundation with bright instrumentation and a wide range of thematic concerns. Grohl, a fellow Virginia native and veteran of the D.C. hardcore scene, plays drums on almost every song here and on the band’s forthcoming album, slated for a summer release. Despite RDGLDGRN’s glossy sound, he sounds natural.
On the surface, opener “I Love Lamp” plays like an upbeat dance number; dig into Green’s lyrics, and he’s dealing with heartbreak: “I send a text a dozen times, but you don’t read it no mo,” he raps. “You always said what’s on your mind, so why don’t you pick up the phone.” Clearly, he’s going through something, but the groove is so infectious you might miss it. The same goes for “Hey O,” the EP’s energetic closer. Amid edgy guitar chords and falling cymbals, Green laments the struggles of finding a job and moving out of his mom’s house: “And these private student loans costing me a leg and arm, now I’m stuck here working for a golden arch.” Green evoked similar exasperation on “Well, Hello” (a standout Five One cut), but he isn’t as petulant here.
It speaks to RDGLDGRN’s creative trek. While elements of the previous group remain, this music is more polished. In years past, the colors tried to appease all listeners by attempting multiple genres. Though it helped them amass a following in northern Virginia and beyond, it led to rough transitions on stage at times. Here, they’ve streamlined their sound for something that’s just as fun, yet far more focused.