After three records, Ra Ra Riot hit a fork in the road. The group’s last effort, “Beta Love," embraced electronic dance music for the first time — and emotionally drained the group best known for violin-laced melodic chamber pop. Rather than burning out, vocalist Wes Miles and his band realized that they had to make some changes.
“We wanted to reconnect with all of the things that we felt when we were first starting, when we were a house party band,” explains Miles. In order to channel this youthful vibe to make the indie rockers’ new record “Need Your Light,” (released in February from Barsuk Records) the five-piece had a solution: simply play some house shows.
“Before we even went into the studio, we did a little house party tour in fall 2014 and we connected with the same people that were at our first shows,” continues Miles. “We brought that energy into the studio this time more than ever.”
The result? A ten-song album that ties infectious, stadium-ready dance pop songs with quirky rock cuts. On one side of the spectrum, encore-ready electro jams like “Absolutely” and “Every Time I’m Ready to Hug” taunt the listener to jump for joy. On the other side, the title track and “Water” — with production help from former Vampire Weekend guitarist Rostam Batmanglij — dive into the group’s expansive, string-laden rock roots.
While ‘80s synth vibes are most noticeable on the record, Miles also noted influences from Kate Bush, Brian Eno, Soul II Soul and Janet Jackson. As well as one particular record: U2’s adventurous 1991 LP “Achtung Baby,” “That’s one thing that Rostam and I bonded over a lot and within the band, too,” says Miles. “It’s one of our favorite records.”
Glam rocker “Bouncy Castle,” about a kid associating sexual desires with lust for the first time, is most representative of Ra Ra Riot’s newfound lighthearted side. “I never would’ve written [it] when we first started because it’s just so silly,” explains Miles. “To get in touch with the more energetic and raucous side, we had to let some of those silly things stand.”
Embracing this silliness may be the key to a long future for the group that formed a decade ago in college at Syracuse University. “It’s encouraging for the future that we can find ways to take the pressure off but still be excited about working together,” says Miles.
If you go:
March 3 at 8 p.m.
Paradise Rock Club
967 Commonwealth Ave.
March 4 at 7:30 p.m.
125 East 11th St.
Union Transfer at 8:30 p.m.
1026 Spring Garden St.