This year is certain to be a big one for Ra Ra Riot. After releasing “The Orchard” in 2010, a satisfactory sophomore effort but hardly the breakout many were expecting, the band has finally hit its stride. Their new LP, “Beta Love,” could very well be their best album to date.
“Beta Love” is a culmination of Ra Ra Riot’s gradual progression from spunky college kids to full-fledged adults. As is true in real life, nothing remains constant — not even band members. Last year, cellist Alexandra Lawn announced her departure from the group. Now, the band also decided to shake up its sound and work with mild synthesizer lines for this new album.
With the help of these synthesizers, Ra Ra Riot sheds the “baroque pop” genre label and dons a new indie pop classification. Songs like ska-influenced “Dance With Me” and foot-stomping “Binary Mind” are the catchiest and most delightful songs the group has crafted.
That being said, Ra Ra Riot still knows how to take things down to a personal level. The beautiful track “When I Dream” features deep bass drum hits and finger snaps to create a bare-boned rhythmic section. The minimalist structure allows lead singer Wes Miles to showcase his seemingly effortless falsetto when he sings, “And when I dream / It’s not of you.”
“Beta Love” is a testament to the band’s ability to adapt and continue to create rich, meaningful music. This album is almost certain to catapult this indie collective into a much bigger spotlight alongside contemporaries such as Stars and Death Cab for Cutie.
3 ½ stars