Friday, September 27, 2013

Rainer Maria ‎– Look Now Look Again (1999)

DeMarrais' austere and slightly husky phrasing shines onLook Now Look Again (Polyvinyl, 1999), an album that refines all elements of Rainer Maria's approach. The best songs are more than music: they are psychological studies. Rise is an elegant, hymn-like composition that relies on a calm delivery (recalling Nico's childish odes) and on hypnotic strumming (the guitar-piano progression being eerily reminiscent of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon). Discordant counterpoint and syncopated drumming form the backdrop for another noble vocal flight by DeMarrais, Lost Dropped And Cancelled. On the contrary, Breakfast Of Champion charges with blind fury and lets the male/female vocal harmonies duel almost free-form, with little respect for the melody. 
To the trio's credit, they animate each song with turbulent instrumental parts and creative interplay. To their credit, most songs have an impetus that is almost punk. On the downside, the noisy, chaotic arrangements of Feeling Neglected and I'm Melting do not seem to benefit the album's atmosphere.

Rainer Maria's Look Now Look Again could quite possibly be the last great album from the now tired emo rock scene. Using the loud-soft dynamics of emo and the catchy playfulness of indie pop proves to be a delicious combination, and Rainer Maria pull it off with grace and intelligence. Sometimes sentimental, but never too sappy,Look Now Look Again showcases the band's strongest attributes: boy-girl vocal dueling, stripped down production to reveal the core emotion of a song, and the melodic and furious attack of a band in its prime. Guitar, bass, and drums tastefully play cat and mouse, weaving in and out of each other, laying a solid foundation for Caithlin De Marrais' poetic lyrics. Her verbal gymnastics are a pleasure to listen to, lyrics like "Like foreign post/I leave twice a day, but take a week to get there" or "I'm certain if I drive into those trees/It would make less of a mess/Than you've made of me" are examples of her subtle wit. Although they probably will not be the messiahs of a dying genre, Rainer Maria will be a band whose creative future is beyond promising; Look Now Look Again is their proof.
Dale T. Nicholls

Oh god it's the new Rainer Maria and I at last own one. I could write some stuff about it, but the truth be told - this is my =2nd favouritest band in the world (I can have lists if I like), so I am not exactly going to tell you it sucks. Even so, I haven't seen a bad review of it yet. People keep saying: "well, it's not perfect, and there's bits that don't seem quite right, but, but, I love it!". Maybe that's some of the inherrent appeal of this band - that they aren't spot on all the time. Yup, the production is nice (an improvement on previous), yup the instrumentation is nice, yup the vocals are nice. And it all gels together fantastically, in a whirl of flawed emo indie rock beauty. 

It's not as dark sounding as the last album (though the occasional lyric begs to differ: "And I'm certain if I drive into those trees, it'd make less of a mess than you've made of me"), relying more on twinkly, sweet pop, or persistent, repetitious guitars that chime away, or even perhaps the occasional more driving track - "Breakfast of Champions" careens away at the start - and Kyle sings less too. The lyrics seem a bit more positive overall, though they are still exceptionally vulnerable, and poetic without being too obscure. I particularly love "Lost, Dropped & Cancelled" and "I'm Melting!" which are just awwwww-inspiring. But they do still do have those impeccable dual vocals from Kyle & Caithlin that just make you go. (just go). And "Feeling Neglected" could have quite easily been culled from "Past Worn Searching". 

First truly great album of 1999 for me. I know that it is going to be a long time before I press a combination of buttons other than "Direct + 3" on my CD remote when I am uncertain of what I want to hear next. 

My only complaint? It's not long enough. Caithlin could sing to me forever. I wouldn't get bored. Repeat play mode anyone?
Andy Malcolm

The band's second LP, Look Now Look Again, was released in April 1999 to the open arms of fans and critics alike. Stellar reviews and write-ups appeared in The New York Times, Alternative Press, Magnet, CMJ, and The Village Voice to name a few. Rainer Maria appeared in Spin three times in the latter half of 1999 and Look Now Look Againwas named one of the magazine's 20 best records of the year. The band would go on that year to record and release Atlantic, a three-song CDEP recorded at Pachyderm Studios (P.J. Harvey, In Utero) in August. Just days later, the band relocated to the East Coast.

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