The Rock*A*Teens

Baby, A Little Rain Must Fall

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This, the Rock*A*Teens first full-length for indie label Merge, is an album of departures. For one, it's the Teens first record since splitting from Indigo Girl Amy Ray's Daemon Records (on which the band had released its first two, definitive albums). For another, the Cabbagetown band boasts a significantly retooled lineup for this outing. Gone are guitarist/singer Kelly Hogan and drummer Chris Verene, leaving guitarist Justin Hughes and Rock*A*Teens' main songwriter, guitarist, and driving force, Chris Lopez (along with new skins recruit Brandon Smith) to carry on the Southern gothic rockabilly post-punk revival. Sonically, too, Baby, A Little Rain Must Fall is a departure. The reverb-drenched, heart-wrenched sound that the band had become known for was still there (with the requisite, love-it-or-leave-it, drama-rich croon-howl-warblings of Lopez, as always, at the core of the aesthetic). The themes of loss and melancholy permeate the atmosphere more than ever. But what's striking about Baby, A Little Rain Must Fall is the that Lopez seems to have employed an oddly muted wall of sound approach that finds the reverb, distortion, percussion, and Lopez' vocals reaching some fantastic heights of disturbed pop (such as on "I Could've Just Died"). Unfortunately, for every spectacularly spooky rock & roll moment, there's a stretch of uninspired, flat songwriting or bout of generalized musical malaise. But it's the dark beauty of Lopez' lyrics and his unflinching delivery that, for all the apparent lack of energy, keep Baby, A Little Rain Must Fall together at the seams. And, at times, it's truly lovely.

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