Rainer Maria: Long Knives Drawn

Rainer Maria have always sounded a bit too "college rock" for me, a bit too punk rock all-grown-up. With their cryptic, yet amiable lyrics, the compulsory soft-loud song structure, and the soaring but slightly off-key vocal style of singer-bassist Caithlin de Marrais, you knew they weren't on to anything new, although you'd have been foolish to doubt their utter mastery of the emo pop world they inhabited. But with their fourth LP, Long Knives Drawn, the Madison, WI trio, continuing where A Better Version Of Me left off, transcends all that icky "poets with guitars" corniness and creates an almost perfect album of indie pop playfulness. Plus, it rocks.

Most notably different with this album, compared to previous outings, is the complete lack of tag team vocals between guitarist Kyle Fischer and de Marrais, with de Marrais apparently taking over the role of frontwoman in full. This change has given the band a new dynamic and de Marrais, with her sometimes sentimental, but never sappy lyrics and the ability to go from sandpaper rough to velvety smooth mid-sentence, is more than capable of carrying the weight of said duty. This is most evident on "Ears Ring", a song which rocks absolutely and sounds like nothing else previously done by the band. A hopeful precursor of things to come, for sure. And as usual, William Kuehn's drumming is above average, his arms flailing about his kit on every tune, proving with every cymbal splash that he is indeed a master drummer. This added to the understated, yet rocking, guitar of Fischer and the primal minimalism of de Marrais's bass and you have what some people would call indie rock bliss. I would have to agree.

Bradley Whittle

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Rainer Maria
song:Ears Ring
album:Long Knives Drawn (Polyvinyl R…
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