Reinvented: A Welcomed Change
Rainer Maria’s S/T is their first album since the band’s breakup in 2006. In the past 11 years, each of the three members have gone through life-changing experiences from creating solo albums to traveling the world to studying Buddhism. Their time off and collective experiences have led to a new sound for the trio, contrasting with who they were a decade ago.
The title of the album alone makes a statement about the band. Artists often release self-titled albums at an effort to introduce themselves to the musical world. Despite their many musical works throughout the ‘90s and early ’00s (including a self-titled album in 1996), S/T introduces Rainer Maria to the musical world again, as they are now. This album shows that they are still the band they were 11 years ago but in a new way. While their older music was excitingly youthful, the nine tracks of S/T are more calculated and methodical. Their sound has the same roughness and emotion to it, with the edges slightly more polished —nonetheless, they are still edgy.
S/T is produced by Rainer Maria’s own Bill Kuehn, ensuring that the album stays true to the trio’s musical vision; they were definitely successful in this. The difference between this album and their older music is not day and night, listeners will be able to tell that they are the same band that has just evolved. Rainer Maria’s older albums are comprised of chaotic emotions and raw, intense noise. Although they’ve matured, this is still very much a rock album.
Rainer Maria has kept their brash sound. The album balances softer songs such as “Hellebore” with traditional rock songs such as “Broke Open Love,” a coming of age anthem. Kuehn’s drumming is deliberately harsh and shines in each of the tracks. Caithlin De Marrais’ and Kaia Fischer’s vocals are powerful and loud, specifically in “Lower Worlds.” “Forest Mattress” features a blend of softer and heavier moments and showcases De Marrais’ range: from authoritative and bold to beautifully mellow.
This album can be equated to a child growing up: more mature and developed, but not any more or less likeable. In S/T, fans of Rainer Maria’s early music will be able to appreciate their dynamic, punk-rock sound while also experiencing something new and fresh.