Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ra Ra Riot: "Beta Love" (album review)

When Ra Ra Riot burst onto the scene with the near-perfect The Rhumb Line, they established themselves as a band to watch.  There was no telling how far the band could push their creativity.  With this week's release of their third full length, Beta Love, it's clear that they weren't up for the challenge.
Gone for the most part (or at least cast into tertiary supporting roles) are the complex string arrangements that gave their music such rich layers.  Synthesizers for the most part have displaced cellos, with tragically generic results.

Many of the tracks are utterly forgettable.  In fact, songs like "Is It Too Much", "What I Do For U", and "When I Dream" will whiz by you without ever registering in your consciousness.  "That Much" is a pedestrian affair with little passion, while the aptly-titled "Wilderness" drifts aimlessly as though lost.

The choruses are more simplistic this time around as well.  The most obvious culprit being "For Once".

The record does have it's enjoyable moments.  The opener "Dance With Me" is a peppy indie dance number, as is the Passion Pit-esque title track.  Nerd rock lovers will appreciate "Binary Mind".  The cellos make an appearance on the otherwise fluffy "Angel, Please", while the closer, "I Shut Off" is the only track that approaches the controlled frenzy of the band's previous work.

Beta Love is a pleasant listen, but pleasant falls far short of the expectations Ra Ra Riot created with The Rhumb Line.

Ra Ra Riot play Lee's Palace in Toronto on March 6th.

Best tracks: "Dance With Me", "Angle, Please"

Track listing for Beta Love:
  • Dance With Me
  • Binary Mind
  • Beta Love
  • Is It Too Much
  • For Once
  • Angel, Please
  • What I Do For U
  • When I Dream
  • That Much
  • Wilderness
  • I Shut Off

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