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How To: Friend, Love, Freefall is the major-label debut of Rainbow Kitten Surprise, a North Carolina quintet known for exuberant indie pop with an earthy folk-rock undertone. Their third album in all, it's their most expansive yet, as the group took advantage of a collection of vintage instruments at the Nashville studio where it was recorded. How To was produced by Jay Joyce, whose experience with extended lineups and instrumentation includes bands such as Cage the Elephant and the Head and the Heart. The album opens in solemn fashion with multi-part a cappella harmonies on the brief "Pacific Love." The contemplative "Mission to Mars" then eases into fuller band arrangements and introduces lead singer Sam Melo's stylized, melodic speaking-rapping. The delivery will sound familiar to established fans but makes more regular appearances here, with Melo combining syllable-dense rhymes, playfulness, and personal and sociopolitical subject matter with conspicuous ease. "Matchbox" offers such flowing vowel rhymes as "Support local, support local/I know I should have been more vocal/Sure, I could have been more social/I've been hanging out on a short rope" -- starts one series. With a voice that moves seamlessly between quasi-raps, bluesy grit, and smooth soulfulness, he mixes things up on "Fever Pitch," which also features more animated drums, backing harmonies, and textured guitar and keys. Throughout, he's accompanied by lively performances from bandmates, who, in addition to hip-hop, pop, and folk, wrangle elements of rock, soul, and jazz to varying degrees, in balanced arrangements that value rhythm and harmony. It all goes by at a brisk pace, thanks in part to Melo's intense vocal style, but also because only two of the 13 tracks cross the four-minute mark, effectively making an impression without overstaying their welcome.