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Ra Ra Riot, ‘Beta Love’ (Barsuk)

“Beta Love” is somewhat different from the more string-laden, chamber-quartet sensibilities of Ra Ra Riot’s previous two CDs. Longtime fans may be annoyed by the change (and the loss of Alexandra Lawn’s lush cello) but dance-music lovers will rejoice in the giddiness of the band’s bouncy synth-pop.

The creation of “Beta Love,” on Seattle label Barsuk, was akin to a game of musical chairs. Recording as a four-piece for the first time, the Syracuse, N.Y., indie-rock band switched instruments and experimented with new sounds and textures, even adding some high-tech toys and gimmicks. The result is a riot of musical fun — albeit highly synthesized. Recorded at Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Miss., the album was produced by Dennis Herring, who added drummer Josh Freese (Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, Devo).

Top tracks include “When I Dream,” the album’s soaring debut single (featuring Wes Miles’ airy vocals), as well as the Prince-like, falsetto-driven “What I Do for U” and retro-sounding “That Much,” which sounds curiously like a Doobie Brothers-inspired chamber-pop song.

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Gene Stout, Special to The Seattle Times

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