Ra Ra Riot’s 2010 release, The Orchard, begins with a solemn and lush track of the same name that’s heavy on strings and atmosphere supplied in part by now-departed cellist Alexandra Lawn. “Dance With Me” kicks off 2013’s Beta Love very differently. And the song title pretty much says it all. The New York-based Ra Ra Riot — formerly known for classical-leaning string arrangements and bookish, collegiate indie rock — has put on its dancing shoes.
The thumping tempos signal the band is set on exploring synth-pop territory. Simply read over the tracklist: “Binary Mind,” “Beta Love” and “I Shut Off,” to name a few. Lyrically, Ray Kurzweil’s artificial intelligence instant-classic The Singularity Is Near and the works of William Gibson inspire the album. And while the band’s hallmark indie rock and string arrangements aren’t entirely gone, they play second fiddle (pun intended) to a Justin Timberlake/Passion Pit-style avant-garde R&B and techno blend — particularly in vocalist Wes Miles’ soaring and soulful tenor. Unfortunately, some of the band’s former endearing earnestness is washed out beneath strobe lights and disco balls.
Joining Ra Ra Riot in Eugene is veteran indie-tronica dance act !!! (“chk chk chk” is the preferred pronunciation) who are touring on their 2012 release THR!!!ER, a work critics are saying is their best and most cohesive to date.
Ra Ra Riot plays with !!! 9 pm Wednesday, Sept. 4, at WOW Hall; $15 adv., $18 door.