Rainer Maria – A Better Version of Me

Rainer Maria
A Better Version of Me

The charm of Rainer Maria has always been the interplay between singers Caithlin De Marrais and Kyle Fischer. Neither has the strongest voice or the more perfect voice, but both have the ability of conveying the emotion and sheer sincerity of this band’s songs across. On recent releases, De Marrais has taken over a majority of the singing duties, and she takes the lead on every song here, but Fischer’s male vocals add a nice accompaniment and backing vocals.
It’s a little harder to describe Rainer Maria’s music. A mix of power-pop and melodic emo rock is probably the easiest way. Basically, every song here is an up-tempo rocker, not too fast but never too slow either. It’s the emotion that comes across in the lyrics and the vocals that always has made Rainer Maria work, and that’s definitely here on their latest release.
What isn’t really here is the catchy quality that some of their earlier songs possessed. True, “Thought I Was,” with its poppy, high-speed and soaring vocals from De Marrais, and “Save My Skin,” with its soaring vocals and clashing percussion, both showcase the band’s catchier qualities. “Hell and High Water,” the last track, takes this a step further, perhaps being one of Rainer Maria’s most straight-forward rock songs. It’s in these songs that you get the sense of what’s best about Rainer Maria. Crashing drums, throbbing bass lines, and sparkling guitar work, all behind the vocals, make these songs typically strong and powerful Rainer Maria tracks.
A few of the tracks show Rainer Maria if not taking a different approach from their last full-length then at least refining their sound with a greater sense of maturity. “Ceremony” seems to focus more on the vocals, and here De Marrais’ vocals seem to strengthen. There’s a feeling of more emotion here, as she sings, “Our past lives were too heavy and too expensive. Now we’re paying together for our inventions.” “Spit and Fire” has a very big sound, and the use of Fischer’s vocals merging with De Marrais’ works very well.
But some of the other offerings on this release are not quite as strong. “Artificial Light” has a kind of dirgeful effect, perhaps just because it never really takes off like it feels like it should. And while “The Seven Sisters” attempts to feel thicker and more potent, more intense, I don’t think it succeeds in the same way that their other songs do. Similarly, “Atropine” is just too quiet, and while De Marrais’ vocals sound more refined on these slower tracks, these songs lack the edge the band is known for.
I think Rainer Maria’s music is getting better. Certainly, the band is maturing and really tightening their sound considerably. But, then again, a lot of their charm has always been their raw power and emotional vocals. Tighten things too much, and you lose that edge that makes them so interesting. That edge isn’t lost on this album, although it’s certainly weakened a bit. Still, there are some classic Rainer Maria songs on here, and old fans won’t be disappointed.