When Ra Ra Riot released their second album “The Orchard” in 2010, there was a strong enough connection to their debut album “The Rhumb Line” that we could start to ease into a sort of comfort ability with the group. The orchestral, indie pop sound flanked by deep cellos and weeping violins were a welcomed departure from the sometimes indistinguishable dance music of the day.
Enter 2013 and their latest offering, “Beta Love”. At first glance, the single off the album by the same name was a total deviation right into the heart of the 80s synth-pop revivalism sound and you’re swiftly shaken from that comfy place.
But you give it some time to breathe and if you’re lucky, you quickly realize this is not your average dance pop album, it’s a Ra Ra Riot dance album!
Lead singer Wes Miles credits the help of power producer Dennis Herring [Modest Mouse, Counting Crows, Elvis Costello] as being instrumental in shaping a new sound for the third album, one that was heavily influenced by futurist author and champion of the singularity, Ray Kurzweil. Bassist Mathieu Santos is credited as the science fiction buff who brought those ideas into the fold which became the blue print for songs like Beta Love and Binary Mind.
As we were wrapping up the session, band manager Josh Roth saw guitarist Milo Bonacci wander over to the baby grand piano that was currently covered up. Josh grins and then tells me that the concept and the melody for “Is It Too Much” from the Beta Love album was actually written on that same piano in 2010 when they were last in town. Milo then plunked down a few notes for old times sake.
It was a Valentine’s Day miracle that the two would reunite all these years later!
Is It Too Much
Can You Tell
When I Dream
Dance With Me
I Shut Off
Editor’s Note: Ra Ra Riot will be playing KCRW’s SXSW showcase on March 13!