Rainer Maria

Long Knives Drawn

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If nothing else, with the release of Long Knives Drawn, Rainer Maria have shown everyone one thing: nine is their magic number. Four LPs under their belts and four albums with exactly nine songs. Not too typical, but this trio has hardly ever been conventional. One look at their set-up shows that to be true. There are few bands who have been as successful in the indie rock scene who have a female singer and aren't associated with the riot grrl movement. Nevertheless, Long Knives Drawn finds the band continuing where A Better Version Of Me left off. Compared to early releases, Kyle Fischer's vocals are non-existent; rather, bassist Caithlin de Marrais continues to expand upon her role as the true frontwoman in the band. In many ways, the vocals from de Marrais carry the weight of the album, as they are seemingly the highest element in the mix. Her vocals seem stronger, more confident, and her range better than on any previous recording the band has done. They can be sweet and delicate as on the closer, "Situation: Relation," or grand and saucy as heard on "Ears Ring." Nevertheless, the music isn't without its fair share of attention-grabbers, either. William Kuehn's limbs were surely all over the place in the recording of the album as he shows his extent as a drummer to be quite amazing. De Marrais' bass work is quite proficient, and her skill at the low-end has become more impressive with the release of each album, this one being no exception. Fischer is normally a quite capable guitarist whose antics and energy have been noticed for some time by fans at live shows. However, it seems here that his guitar work is merely meant to tread water, biding time for some big explosion that never seems to come. On that note, it's also worth mentioning that the mix seems uneven, as vocals, bass, and cymbals, are up higher than the snare or guitar. It's not uncomfortable to hear by any means, but it is noticeable if one listens for it. Nevertheless, it's a minor point on an otherwise solid album. Long Knives Drawn isn't as dynamic as Past Worn Searching, nor as bubbly as Look Now Look Again, but it's capable of reaching a larger audience. In other words, it shows a band that has matured and is creating viable pop music while still retaining indie credibility.

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