Strange things seem to happen to Taraka and Nimai Larson, the sisters who, for the last eight years, have called themselves Prince Rama. Remember, for instance, the New York woman who, in 2013, tried to take a photo of two raccoons in Central Park? For a moment, the masked mammals posed before attacking her, wrapping around her legs and biting her ankles. She retreated into the Plaza Hotel and became a good-natured viral punch line. That was Taraka.
Similarly, the sisters say they began writing their excellent new album, Xtreme Now, a year earlier, while living in "a black metal utopian commune" off the Estonian coast. A schizophrenic spell prompted Taraka to experience life during the Middle Ages and 2067 simultaneously. In the future, she encountered a surrealistic world run by extreme sports. "I realized that time travel was possible via the gateway of extreme sports," she has explained, "and I wanted to make music that would provide the score."
If simply enjoying thirty-seven breathless, ebullient minutes constitutes time travel, then, sure, Xtreme Now accomplishes that aim. The once esoteric percussion-and-keys duo turns outward and embraces the wider world for these eleven songs, adding hooks and refrains that are bright enough to anchor hits on a parallel-universe FM dial, where Grimes is the biggest star in the world and Julianna Barwick is Delilah. The iterative piano and big lift of "Your Life in the End" feels like a popular Fatboy Slim production, transformed into a spiritual chant. The chirping vocals and percussive panoply of "Believe in Something Fun" form top-down road-trip music suitable for the Jetsons' space cars, while the surprisingly aggressive bash "Xtreme Now Energy" is a jock jam that rivals Sleigh Bells' best. Prince Rama have always been real explorers, unfettered by casual expectations of style and sound. On Xtreme Now, they pack that attitude behind triumphant songs—an extreme victory. With Secret Boyfriend.