Passion Pit, Freelance Whales, Vampire Weekend
What’s so good?:
If you have heard any of the new material from Beta Love then you will be well aware of the reinvention of Ra Ra Riot’s sound. The clear changes in the album are the emphasis and incorporation of keyboards and synthesizers, which add a certain danceability to some of the tracks. If that’s the direction they were heading towards, then they’ve more than achieved that desired effect in this third album. One thing that hasn’t changed are Wes Miles’ swooning falsetto vocals, which are left to carry the success of the record; easily the best instrument of them all.
What’s not so good?:
Although the transition from indie rock to indie pop wasn’t a total disaster, they did leave me wondering about the whereabouts of the violin. It was somewhat deserted in this album even though it was treated as a centrepiece back when they released The Orchard in 2010. There is also the noticed absence of Alexandra Lawn, the cellist who left the group before the production of Beta Love. Without the support of the fuller orchestrations that once defined Ra Ra Riot, Rebecca Zeller’s violin falls flat in this particular album, which was kind of disappointing.
It seems that the stripped down songs shone most brightly in this particular album. I wasn’t a big fan of the chiptune, 8-bit, synth pop nonsense that was presented in some tracks. ‘When I Dream’ is still probably my favourite track after hearing the album in its entirety purely because of its varying levels of intimacy. ‘Is it Too Much’ reminded me of the kind of song that you would love to hear in an elevator, as odd as that sounds. ‘Beta Love,’ the lead track from the album, was the song that signalled Ra Ra Riot’s intent and did a great job grabbing some new fans with its upbeat synth laden pop sound.
With the departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn, the third studio album does no justice to the force that Ra Ra Riot once dominated as. It is clear now that Ra Ra Riot is only best within the hole they had closed themselves in and breaking free is seemingly impossible.
3 out of 5
Without any further adieu, take a listen to Beta Love by Ra Ra Riot: