The Fool

Ryn Weaver

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The Fool Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Ryn Weaver first made waves via "Octahate," a 2014 viral hit co-written with Charli XCX, Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos, and Benny Blanco, a collaborator with Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and Maroon 5 -- a credits list that hints at the style and ambition displayed on her 2015 debut, The Fool. Still, it's only a hint. Weaver does share some semblance of Charli XCX's savvy pop sense but she veers closer to the moodiness of Lorde and the cool majesty of Florence + the Machine, occasionally wandering into a bit of coffeehouse poetry left over from Alanis Morissette, such as the a cappella coda to "Traveling Song," which at first feels improvised but is too precise in its execution to be anything other than preordained. This sense of control pulsates throughout The Fool. It's there in Weaver's performance, where she expertly hits her marks time and time again. It's there in the production, largely by Angelakos and Blanco, a sound that switches between skeletal beds and a glacial rush. Most of all, it's there in the exacting synthesis of the poppiest elements of Lorde, Florence + the Machine, Sky Ferreira, and Charli XCX, the splices between the conflicting personalities so seamless that it's easy to not notice how Ryn Weaver's personality is deliberately created from the movements of others. This shameless appropriation is what makes The Fool a pop record at its core: it has the veneer of art but the heart of an entertainer, relying on atmosphere and hooks instead of the plumbing of a soul. Of course, this is also what's good about The Fool. Weaver and crew focus on the grand gestures, escalating the emotions and tension, spending as much time on the surge as the hook, and even if this tactic means the slower songs on the back half of the record drift, it also means that when the music is meant to be sweeping it often is.

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