ALBUM REVIEW: L'Rain, Fatigue
This saying is so cliche, but fuck it, I’ll say it anyway because it’s the truth, “life is not black and white”. As I write this and look outside, I see a rainy landscape and a gray sky. While it’s down pouring outside, likely making life uncomfortable for drivers and people without umbrellas, it is ideally writing and sleeping time for me. Take this a step beyond, to life events and the emotions associated with them. A breakup might include tears, holes punched in the wall, acceptance, lies, honesty and sex, all in the span of 20 minutes. Nothing is concrete, it’s all wet cement that is subject to be imprinted upon at any time. Modern songwriters like L’Rain fully embody this in lyrical content and sound play.
L’Rain uses every dimension of her sound to express this reality. If she wants chaos she’ll give a track an odd time signature, she throws in samples that state theses plainly, she uses her outtakes as tone setters and segways. “Fly, Die” and “Find It” kick the record off, giving a majority of the runtime to contemplative, jazzy instrumentals laced with muted, haunting shrieks, police sirens and air horns. Like contemporaries Blood Orange and Yves Tumor, she is able to pin down this New York sound entirely by way of mood. All we need is a little soul and a couple of sax hits and we’re in this sunbleached cinematic world full of drum solos, bass and tragic circumstances. Moods shift on this record so swiftly, like changing the dials on a radio station. “Blame Me” is vocally sweet like Dirty Projectors track that would be led by Angel Deradoorian, lyrically depressive in its themes of displacement and familial trauma, and instrumentally grand. It seems like these elements wouldn’t come together well, but they really do.
Structurally, the album is similar to Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales. There will be a funky, bass heavy track like “Suck Teeth” with an outtake or field recording before and after it. Unlike that album, these little clips don’t always play into the themes of the album in a meaningful way. I still find the tracks themselves to be enjoyable from a pure production standpoint, but the lack of connection to the songs makes some of them non-essential. A good function that they provide is bridging the disjointed genres and expressions of these songs. The variation of types of music on here is definitely my favorite part aside from the actual audio engineering/mixing of the songs themselves. Just like on my current album of the year ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH by SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, L'Rain has no issue going from Ambien house (not a typo I meant the drug) on “Kill Self” to tape-manipulating neo-soul on “Two Face” to echoed chamber music on “I V”. It feels like she’s not hopping genres due to a lack of a central sound, but rather a sound that is so universal that it needs many genres to fully express it’s message. The only reason I hesitate to give it a “Standout Album” designation is because the vocals and some of the songwriting could’ve been stronger. Again, my attraction to this record is mostly due to the sound play. I think without a super strong voice or airtight lyrical cohesion, the record is just short of reaching another level. But, I would highly recommend you guys give it a listen and I’d be curious to see how these tracks are translated to a live setting.