Ra Ra Riot: Beta Love


Ever since drummer John Pike's death, prior to Ra Ra Riot's 2008 debut, The Rhumb Line, the group has been searching for a new identity. Its earliest music is notable for blending lush chamber pop with an indie rock bristle, proving to be simultaneously brash and graceful. After slowing the tempos and increasing the baroque qualities for 2010's The Orchard, Beta Love brings propulsion back to the group's danced-up numbers, like Arcade Fire on a new wave kick. The general absence of guitars is disconcerting, but the pulsing synth-pop fits singer/keyboardist Wes Miles' dramatic tenor and meshes seamlessly with the group's orchestral elements. The renewed vibrancy and variety compensate for the lack of guitars, at times aping Vampire Weekend, briskly navigating 11 tracks in 30 minutes. (3 out of 5 stars)