Bright. If there was one word to describe A Better Version of Me, the word would be bright. Initially, that word comes to mind because of the excessive use of cymbals and because Iím an audio engineering refugee, Iím forced to associate cymbals with brightness. Many people said The Whoís Keith Moon played his drum kit as if he were actually playing an instrument (rather than merely keeping beat). The trio of Rainer Maria embraces that idea and it would seem that they compose around the drums rather than the other way aroundÖ and itís an amazing sound. You canít help but to take notice.
Upon deeper inspection, the word bright takes on a grander meaning. Aside from using words that you havenít heard since your 6th grade vocabulary tests, Rainer Maria can write poignant lyrics. The first track on A Better Version of Me, "Artificial Light", while for the most part being an ambiguous ramble, has a few "one liners" that one can only assume is a serious examination of anotherís condition. "Simultaneous sitting Ďtil you atrophy/Maybe you try to be pretty, instead of kind." Rainer Mariaís lyrics go from the deeply insightful on tracks like "Thought I Was" and "The Seven Sisters", to the strange on tracks like "The Contents of Lincolnís Pockets."
As for the sound, lead singer, Caithlin De Marraisís voice can end up sounding a little too polished in some places. After the outstanding introduction that is "Artificial Light", we venture into "Thought I Was", which despite its impressive lyrics, sounds a bit like an ego-piece. The "look at how well I can sing" feel is better left to bands who are looking for mainstream radio play. If thatís the case, itís a shame, because Rainer Maria could stake their claim to chunk of indie territory if they stay on the right course.
For most part, the sound doesnít change much on A Better Version of Me. When I first listened to this album, I thought track 8, "Spit and Fire" was a reprise of "Artificial Light." Can you fault them for sticking to the same sound? Itís worked for the Ramones for a few decades. The sound works, too. Itís has the familiarity of bands like The Wedding Present and Lotion, but also creates a sound and (dare I say it) a brand all itís own. Fast guitar, slow bass lines, cymbal heavy drums, bittersweet lyricsÖ like I said, Bright.
- Artificial Light
- Thought I Was
- The Seven Sisters
- Save My Skin
- The Contents of Lincolnís Pockets
- Spit and Fire
- Hell and High Water