The road from Baroque Pop to Electro Synth Pop is not one that can be trekked easily. And I so wish I could say Ra Ra Riot is a band that has come out alive and unscathed. With the newly quartet’s latest release, Beta Love, the band says goodbye to everything they once knew (including their cellist Alexandra Lawn). I’m all for evolving one’s sound, but as long as it’s done right. I’m not gonna blame the band’s genre change on the departure of Lawn, the absence of strings could be one of a million reasons for the transformation. Not gonna lie though, those lovely strings are deeply missed. They seemed to skip and stroll hand in hand so effortlessly with frontman Wes Miles, which let’s be real here, is what really made me fall in love with the band.
It seems as if I listened to Beta Love in a daze, only awakening to When I Dream and then losing focus altogether again in the midst of a stampede of synthesizers and pounding drums beats. I had a lot of hope for this album when I first heard When I Dream. If they just stuck with that minimalist approach, they could’ve tapped into something really amazing. But alas, this album just makes them comparable to any other electro pop band out there, with their sound still in its elementary stages. What I Do For U is almost laughable with its mind boggling r&b electro bass concoction. Binary Mind makes me feel like I’m stuck battling spiky head anime characters in an ’80s Japanese video game (and not in the awesome kind of way). Though there are some highs in For Once and Dance With Me, everything else just simply falls flat. I’m not asking for another Rhumb Line, but maybe just a logical step after it. C’mon Ra Ra Riot, I know you’ve got it in you.
Btw, you can also stream Beta Love on Ra Ra Riot’s official site, which comes with a neat-o visualizer that may or may not make you feel better about this album’s weaker points.
And when I dream, it’s not of you,