Entertainment Music
Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: Ra Ra Riot, 'Beta Love'

**1/2 stars (out of four)

We all assumed, upon discovering Ra Ra Riot, that they were a synth pop band, right? Or at least some kind of thing you could play at parties?

It turned out they were actually a band with a string section, maybe best suited to soundtracking the kind of gathering where a guy traps you in a corner and talks about the novel he's working on--not riotous at all.

On their third album, "Beta Love," members of Ra Ra Riot have finally begun to embrace their destiny as, if not always a synth pop band, at least players of a decent party playlist who dabble in synth pop.

The band's cellist has left, and with her some of its defining sound--in this case, arguably a good thing. Ra Ra Riot takes the opportunity to try on the guises of many indie music peers, making songs that sound like, at turns, Of Montreal ("Binary Mind"), Passion Pit ("Beta Love"), Feist ("Is It Too Much"), Yeasayer ("Wilderness") and more. Highlight "That Much" calls to mind Fleetwood Mac with a drum machine, and this album is not entirely unlike that band's fragmented classic, "Tusk." There's a certain rewarding restlessness.

If you're going to put together that party playlist, though, it's hard to imagine why you would use many of these songs rather than the more competent counterparts they seem to echo. On the other hand, the tracks that do feel a little more distinctly Ra Ra Riot-y, like the jaunty "For Once," tend to be rote. It's not entirely clear what kind of band Ra Ra Riot is, maybe, but a little bit of confusion, in this case, is welcome.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic

See them live March 1 at Metro.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Yep, I took my dad to Lollapalooza

    I suppose I should be old enough to know by now that something doesn't become un-cool just because your parent is there.

  • Lollapalooza style portraits

    Lollapalooza style portraits

    Concertgoers pose at the three-day fest in Grant Park.

  • Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    And just like that, there’s only one day left of Lolla. Here’s what stood out to us from day 2. Best: The Tallest Man on Earth: Maybe it was just a right-mood, right-set situation, but boy this was the perfect mid-day act to take a breather, sit in the sun, and just chill and listen to and enjoy....

  • 50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    Shots in The Dark at Parliament Nightclub with 50 Cent and The Underground Nightclub with Wyclef Jean and Joey Fatone July 31st

  • Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    One day down! Here’s the best and worst we saw at Lolla on Friday, plus a few superlatives from day 1. Best: Anyone who knows me knows I was bound to pick Paul McCartney as my favorite act of the day. The Beatle came out and gave it his all with more than two hours of hits, tributes and jokes about...

  • Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    What can you really say about Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, pop music pioneer, worldwide cultural icon, and all-around great guy, that hasn't already been said? I mean, seriously. With the Beatles changing music for the better, becoming a pop culture institution and being "more popular...

Comments
Loading
69°