Sam reviews “Beta Love” by Ra Ra Riot

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Sam reviews “Beta Love” by Ra Ra Riot

Members of Ra Ra Riot perform on the Chicago 2016 stage at Lollapalooza, August 9, 2009.

Members of Ra Ra Riot perform on the Chicago 2016 stage at Lollapalooza, August 9, 2009.

Members of Ra Ra Riot perform on the Chicago 2016 stage at Lollapalooza, August 9, 2009.

Members of Ra Ra Riot perform on the Chicago 2016 stage at Lollapalooza, August 9, 2009.

Music Critic

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What is the classic stereotype of indie rock? Is it that it’s joyless? Often needlessly retro and flatter than the English countryside? Or is it purely based on those rotten hipsters?

 

It must be the hipsters, because from a musical basis, New Yorkers Ra Ra Riot kick all those stereotypes where it hurts with their third album “Beta Love.”  

“Beta Love” comes in the wake of several changes for the band since 2010’s “The Orchard.” In 2011, Honda used their song “Boy” for a Civic commercial, and last year, longtime cellist Alexandra Lawn quit the band.

 

The band’s sound, formerly indie rock with a major classical influence, also underwent a crazy shift into peppy, compact synth-pop, with frontman Wes Miles crooning lyrics about robot love and sleeping fathers, before breaking into a killer falsetto.

The vibe of the album is, surprisingly, very happy. There are a few moments like the melancholic “Is It Too Much,” or “Wilderness,” where it does slow down.

 

But it’s really just giving you a break instead of bringing you down, because the rest of the album will have you bouncing around and singing along with irresistible hooks as I was, especially the sublime “For Once” (which I’ve already played 50 times),  and the glorious “Angel, Please.”

I feel especially grateful for this record, since I just went through a rocky personal time and this definitely helped me out. “Come and dance with me, pretty sweet fool,” sings Miles, on the opening cut “Dance With Me.”

 

It’s an indie-rock party and for once, everyone’s invited.