Office's A Night at the Ritz is the sampler box of candy that puts a smile on your face but doesn't put you in a diabetic coma, with smart snappy pieces of pop sensibility that tip a hat to the 80s, some theatricality, a lot of intelligence and even more heart. Modern art, modern love, modern life.
At times, Office has hints of a nougaty OK Go, a layer of Orson, a ribbon of Rufus Wainwright, just a pinch or ELO, and a twist of Queen. Without succoming to mere mimicry, A Night at the Ritz gives a sense that Scott Masson and Co know a lot about the pop music landscape past and present and happily employ every successful element in the book.
The guitars, keyboards and vocals keep the tunes playful, buoyant and ever so slightly indulgent. I have a soft spot for bands with women in the rhythm section (Office boasts drummer Erika Corniel and bassist Alissa Noonan), and the duo's steady driving beats (and engineering for not blowing them out of proportion) propel the songs and the listener forward from song to song.
It's hard choosing any favorite songs from A Night at the Ritz. The more I listen, the more I attach myself to another song to love. "Oh My" (the first song on the album and the first single) immediately jumps to mind. Other standouts are "Company Calls"("put down your lipstick/cuz it's messing up our kisses"), and "The Big Bang Jump!" ("quick fake/head shake/hands to the ceiling. The one song lacking the same oomph of the other songs is "Suburban Perfume", the last song on the album. It loses the forward-thinking with a retro twist feel and falls back on sweet acoustic sentimentality.