"The More Things Change..." Ra Ra Riot "Beta Love" Reviewed
All the talk leading up to Ra Ra Riot's 3rd album, Beta Love, was about the band's new electronic focus and the departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn. A beats-centric album isn't that much of a stretch for Ra Ra Riot, especially when you consider vocalist Wes Miles' side project, Discovery.
The departure of Lawn also helps to aid this transition, since her cello has long defined the band's chamber pop sound. The strings that made Ra Ra Riot a 1st generation blogosphere darling are still present, but they are far less prevalent than the keyboard and synthesizer that take center stage on this record.
The end result, as one might expect from such a transitionary album, is a mixed-bag. Some of the new sonic paths the band takes are a revelation, while others find them stuck in the same boring rut they claim to be pigeonholed into.
The album's opener, "Dance With Me," as well as the title track, are the best examples of when everything in their sound clicks. Both are terrific songs that will put a hop in your step and will make even the most hard-hearted, anti-dance person (assuming such a caricature even exists) twitch in their seat.
While those two exceptional tracks give the band a foundation to build their new sound upon, they seem to be more of the exception than the rule. Some tracks, like the anemic "What I Do For U," seem to be trying a little too hard to be a departure from the band's past.
All in all this is a decent record with some great highlights. Too often, though, the tracks run together, and some lack a pulse entirely.
So really it's like the previous two Ra Ra Riot albums, just without the cello.