Ra Ra Riot - Beta Love

The New Yorkers’ latest is a toothless shark, re-heating sounds that’ve been in vogue back home for over a decade.

People wheel out comparisons to sharks - how they have to keep moving because, if they don’t, they die - to make things seem badass, but is it not more sad than anything else? Never being able to rest, lest you fall apart. Because why? Because the structural integrity isn’t up to snuff? Because without constant movement it’d be revealed as nothing?

‘Beta Love’ is Ra Ra Riot’s third album - the first since the departure of founding member Alexandra Lawn - and it’s a shark. It gets through eleven songs in little over half an hour, partly because there’s no breathing space between any of those tracks. It’s a toothless shark - it serves up re-heats of electro and post-punk instrumentation, song structure and rhythms that have been in vogue in their native New York since the turn of the millennium. It tries its best to distract you from that by speeding along, trying its best to dodge critical harpoons and keep it all together.

Over the past six years, Ra Ra Riot have toured with Tokyo Police Club and Editors, and worked with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie. And they’ve got bits of all stuck in their teeth (or, if keeping up the toothless shark analogy, gums). They’ve moved past the baroque pop of their first two albums - because of the loss of Lawn’s cello - in favour of synths and drum machines and Passion Pit-aping falsetto. And it doesn’t work.

It takes until ‘Is It Too Much’ for a song quiet enough to think, and the thought is: this is a confused mess of a record, with nonsensical lyrics, trite musical clichés, and not a lot else. And then it stops, and it dies.

Tags: Ra Ra Riot, Reviews, Album Reviews

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