The album was originally set to be released in the United Kingdom one week after the original Danish release, but was eventually released on 1 March 2010, followed by the second single, "Hole in My Heart". As announced by the band through their Facebook page on 27 January 2010, UK and international pressings of the album were retitled The Beat Is... including the bonus track "Till I Get Round".
"The Spell" was released in Denmark on 21 September 2009, serving as the lead single from the album. It topped the Danish Singles Chart for four non-consecutive weeks, while reaching number six in Belgium, number eleven in the Netherlands and number twenty in the United Kingdom.
"DJ", released on 9 January 2010 as the album's second single in Denmark, peaked at number six on the Danish chart. When released as the third UK single on 31 May 2010, the track was remixed by Biffco and promoted as "DJ (I Could Be Dancing)", but failed to chart within the UK top 100, instead reaching number 116.
"Heat Wave" was released in Denmark on 21 June 2010 as the album's fourth and final single overall. It charted at number four in Denmark, the group's second highest-peaking single in their home country.
The Spell received mixed to positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 58, based on 7 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews". K. Ross Hoffman of AllMusic viewed the album as "an even glossier, more unabashedly poptastic affair than their first album", adding that it "takes its cues from turn of the '90s club music: Hi-NRG, Euro-beat, hip-house, and the Scandinavian synth-reggae of Ace of Base." Hugh Montgomery wrote for The Observer that the album finds the group "appropriating the handbag house sound that was the cornerstone of provincial clubs circa 1995. Thus jittery piano riffs and hands-in-the-air breakdowns abound, while singer Stine hollers dancefloor doggerel." Simon Gage of Daily Express described the songs as "chirpy and silly with witty lyrics", while calling the music itself "Euro-nonsense at its finest".The Guardian's Michael Hann, however, expressed that "[t]he glee that infused that first album has been swamped by endless staccato synth or piano riffs, all of which sound like a score of minor hits from a generation ago."Mike Diver of BBC Music agreed, stating, "With its makers performing like they'd rather be elsewhere, compositions finalised by playing percentages rather than the passion that fuelled their debut, The Beat Is... represents a nadir for a group once heralded as purveyors of the very brightest pop."
Stephen Kelly of the NME commented that Alphabeat "have bravely stripped away all the bubblegum that originally made them popular in favour of the Euro-dance years of the late-'80s/early-'90s. The result is stronger than you might think, but too inconsistent and devoid of depth to stand out on a battlefield where Gaga rules all."The Times critic Peter Paphides opined that the album "varies the tempo and tone without sacrificing the joyful execution. The ultra-catchy single, 'The Spell', is an apt microcosm of a whole that peaks with the Italo-house urgency of '365 Degrees'. But, if 'Chess'' resemblance to Ace of Base strikes you as a bad thing, the rest may not appeal to you either." Michael Cragg of musicOMH noted that "[t]hings start promisingly, [...] with the first four songs zipping by in a blaze of joyfully cheesy beats [...], '90s rave piano [...] and neat vocal interplay between singers Anders SG and Stine Bramsen", but felt that the remainder of the album "lacks any sparkle or panache, with the band falling foul of a very current musical disease; the Auto-Tune obsession." Lauren Murphy of entertainment.ie concluded that the group "may have lost some of their magic, but they admittedly make reparations with the damned catchy 'Heat Wave' and 'The Right Thing', two of the peppiest tunes on offer here. Unfortunately, it's not quite enough to prevent this album from being something of an anticlimax. A highly stylised one, sure—but a disappointment, nonetheless."Drowned in Sound's panned the album as "an absolute abomination of a record" and critiqued, "Gone is any sense of personality or charm that Alphabeat once had, to be replaced by masses of Autotuned vocals, processed beats and batteries of keyboard sounds that haven't been aired since Ace Of Base and 2Unlimited ruled the waves."