Ra Ra Riot "Need Your Light"

Sometimes it’s hard for a band to settle on a sound, or maybe they don’t feel the need to settle into one easily defined musical identity. Ra Ra Riot began as a house party band, playing around the epicenter of Syracuse University. Their debut release The Rhumb Line didn’t reflect much of their dance music experience. Instead it took a turn toward artsy, chamber-pop, including a cover of Kate Bush’s “Suspended in Gaffa.” 2010’s The Orchard crested on folk-pop arrangements. By 2013 Beta Love began to move more toward a dance element. That move is completed with Ra Ra Riot’s fourth album.

Need You Love is an energized, revitalized visit to the dance floor. The quintet re-engaged with past collaborators, including Andrew Maury who worked on The Orchard. More substantial input comes from the album’s two producers, Ryan

Ryan Hadlock, Dennis Herring, and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam  Batmanglij. Lead songwriter and singer Wes Miles worked with Batmanglij on a duo project after discovering that they were musically simpatico. Together they wrote “Water” the album’s first single, and the title track, with both songs acting as center pieces of the release. Herring and Hadlock work with Miles and the rest of the band on seven other songs.

Wes Miles handles most of the lyrical duties, and his focus fall on delving into the intricacies and complications of romantic relationships. His vocals play to the higher ranges of songs that find a blend of dance and synth-pop, while still making room for cello and violin. It’s a tenuous balance that Ra Ra Riot has worked to perfect.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)