Rainer Maria – S/T
Rainer Maria were an emo/indie rock band that started out in 1995 and wrapped things up in 2006. Setting them apart in a scene dominated by scrawny, nerdy, white males whining and crying about stuff, Rainer Maria were female-fronted instead. Fast forward to 2017, emo is making a comeback, every band is getting back together, and Rainer Maria got the memo. So they reinvent the band ever so slightly, they kind of repackage the band just a hair, they record a new record, and they put the album out and call it S/T, maybe to hopefully attract a newer and much younger fan base who may not realize at first glance that this band has been around for more than 20 years.
The last Rainer Maria album sucked. 2006’s Catastrophe Keeps Us Together was by far their worst record even though it was Rainer Maria’s most polished work. There’s an old saying that you can’t polish a turd, well, ya’ can. The folks that came up with that saying obviously never worked in music production. So, anyone who didn’t like Rainer Maria’s last album might be afraid to see what’s in store with this new one, even if they loved their earlier work, ’cause who knows what they’re going to throw at us now.
But what Caithlin De Marrais and company manage to come up with on this new album is nothing short of remarkable. It’s almost as if Rainer Maria have come full circle, back to their roots. The whole naming the recording S/T (implying just “Rainer Maria”), doesn’t seem like a sales tactic or a promotional gimmick anymore, it just seems like they’re naming it that ’cause this really is the relaunch of their brand and sound. Rainer Maria are essentially back and they’re better than they’ve ever been.
The album starts off strong and continues that way till the very end with no definitive weak point. Rainer Maria are a little slower and maybe a tinge heavier than they have been previously, but this seems to be a deliberate/professional decision versus accidental/spontaneous. All the tracks are spot on, but if you had to pick a single off the record, go for track two, “Suicides and Lazy Eyes.”
This is not really an emo or an indie rock record. It ought to be bigger than all that snobbery. What this album truly feels like is a time back in the 1990s where there was a chance for bands to have music played on the radio that still had elements of sounding real – real bands, playing real instruments. Rainer Maria’s S/T has that 1990s alternative rock nostalgia feel to it. It’s just real. Or, well, it’s a lot less fake than most everything else out there right now.