On “Beta Love,” Ra Ra Riot dramatically leaves behind the churning and heartfelt violin- and cello-accented indie rock of its previous two albums in favor of a chipper take on electronic pop. It’s an almost-complete transformation: The production on the drums eliminate the spectre of human involvement, the guitars sound like they’ve been frozen and snapped off in pieces, and the falsetto on which Wes Miles relies repositions him in the band. It’s as though they’ve applied Gotye’s sonic palette, with a dollop of Of Montreal’s giddiness for good measure. But, despite the experimentation, most of the album sounds as brittle as a demo. “When I Dream” has the ingredients to be a solid pop song, but everything surrounding them is too constrictive. It’s fine that Ra Ra Riot’s not playing to its traditional strengths, but “Beta Love” doesn’t find any new ones to take their place. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “For Once”
Ra Ra Riot performs at the Paradise Rock Club on Jan. 26.