“Beta Love” is the third album from up-and-coming indie-rock group Ra Ra Riot. It’s a diary of how the band is changing and transforming. Alexandra Lawn and Gabrielle Duquette, the band’s cellist and drummer respectively, left the group early last year, and the band’s sound has evolved because of this. Embracing a more electro-pop feel, the album brings Ra Ra Riot into the spotlight.
The opening song, “Dance With Me” has an interesting mix of switchbacks with electronic chirps and contradictory lyrics such as “I mostly feel like I had a good day / It wasn’t that great.” The opening track seems to suggest that the entire album will be nothing more than an assortment of songs united only by the use of synthesizers.
But the next few songs pick up and flourish with a technological feeling. “Binary Mind” is upbeat and unexpected; “Beta Love” is slower and driven by synthesizers and the falsetto of band member Wes Miles.
The rest of the tracks are underwhelming. The album has a robotic feel, and the songs begin to melt into one another with no distinction between them.
Despite all this, the band has worked hard to switch up its sound in the face of member changes. There are tracks with a laid-back jazzy feel, tracks with a hip-hop beat expected of a Kanye West album and tracks with an 80s synthesizer dominating the song. “When I Dream” and “Wilderness” are two songs that venture tentatively into exciting new sounds that the band will hopefully experiment more.
“Beta Love” is a mixture between Top 40 and dusty vinyl records. It comes out being the best of both worlds and is still slick and danceable while holding true to the band’s art school charm. The album proves that Ra Ra Riot has a lot of potential to do something great in the electro-pop genre. There’s still have a lot of work to do, but don’t overlook this band for the next party playlist.