Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love
Release Date – January 22, 2013
Recommended if you like: Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club, Yeasayer
A lot has changed since the 2010 release of The Orchard from Ra Ra Riot. The departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn have moved the band out of their signature orchestral-indie-rock sound, and the exit of drummer Gabe Duquette has ushered in a new theme of layered programmed drums. For long time fans of the Syracuse band, you may be in for a bit of a shock.
The album starts out strong, with a catchy musical arrangement and an opening lyric we can all relate to: “Oh, I mostly feel I had a good day. It wasn’t that great.” Their foray into the electro-pop world continues to be promising, with the help of “Binary Mind,” “Beta Love,” and “Is It Too Much.” Lead single and title track “Beta Love” offers their new sound at its best. Lead singer Wes Miles’ chest voice and falsetto mix help emphasize the strength of the chorus while keeping you interested in each verse. It’s an excellent choice for the single, and will definitely be getting some play on alternative radio.
The promising electro-pop move ends about 5 songs into the album, unfortunately. “Angel, Please” has an odd key change leading into the chorus that would make any musician question the reasoning behind it. “What I Do For U” is beyond bizarre; the hip hop style drum beat behind arpeggiated keyboard chords with falsetto vocals are certain to throw you for a loop. The same drum beat comes back in “When I Dream,” but thankfully helps revive a little life into the second half of the album. Beta Love closes with “I Shut Off,” which leaves a little bit to be desired.
In their attempt to move away from their old sound, Ra Ra Riot has certainly made strides in the right direction. What is certain is that they are not at the top of their game yet. Let’s just hope they don’t wait another 3 years to show us how good they can be.