Emo-core darlings Rainer Maria stay close to heartache and dogmatic independence on their third full-length, A Better Version of Me. Sincerely endearing thanks to the band's passion for poetry and romanticism, classic visceral lyrics are clearly depicted, harmonic story lines picking things up where their critically received sophomore effort Look Now Look Again left off five years prior.
Caithlin De Marrais' graceful, yet abrasive vocals craft the dynamic of the band: well-directed musicianship without the frills of overproduced punk-inspired anthems. The musical relationship between Caithlin De Marrais, guitarist Kyle Fischer, and drummer William Kuehn is as enigmatic as Lou Barlow's satirical heartbreak, but also emotionally stripped like Sarah Dougher's feminine toughness. Songs such as "Spit and Fire" and "The Seven Sisters" are De Marrais' swan songs -- pure honesty of self-denial and fear. Such messages are typically found in most pop songs, but a theme never far from any individual in search of something different, something creative, and something real. And like their indie rock cohorts (Bettie Serveert, the Spinanes), Rainer Maria seeks catharsis in an enchanting way and A Better Version of Me supports humanity's internal tussles with taking responsibility.