After stumbling on 1999's Beta Band—an eccentric album that was as frustratingly self-indulgent and impenetrable as it was occasionally fresh and brilliant—the Beta Band returns with a r

After stumbling on 1999's Beta Band—an eccentric album that was as frustratingly self-indulgent and impenetrable as it was occasionally fresh and brilliant—the Beta Band returns with a renewed focus, as well as its most fully realized set to date. As on previous efforts, the formula remains much the same—a mix of trippy beats, acoustic riffs, pop samples, and spaced-out atmospherics. The difference is in the execution, which is aided by tighter songs, a shorter running time, and increased melodicism. The band's futuristic folk remains as eclectic as ever, with songs ranging from the dub-influenced "Broke" to the hip-hop-flavored "Won," which samples Harry Nilsson's "One." While this enigmatic quartet has yet to create a truly great album, part of the Beta Band's appeal is its enormous potential, which is on full display here.—BG