REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Rainer Take Electronic Pop To New Level With Debut Album 'Water'

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

London duo Rainer, comprised of singer Rebekah Raa and producer Nic Nell (aka Casually Here) have followed up the delicious, dark pop of their debut EP with a generous second serving on 'Water', their first full-length.

It is easy for modern pop to lose itself in the sheen of contemporary production, and many of the camp who claim the inferiority of 21st Century music to that of preceding decades point to this as evidence. It is acts like Rainer that pull the carpet under these arguments, however: their style is thoroughly modern, with washes of synth, wide-ranging vocal effects and a smörgåsbord of generic influences, but there is an irresistible spirit in these songs that has been the heirloom of pop throughout its existence.

As moody as the tone of these songs can be, the joy in their creation is always audible in the way every element springs from form to form, in the variety of instrumentation and creativity of expression. From bright marimba and steel drums on the title track to apparent oboe in recent single "Marry", the instrumental palette of 'Water' is diverse, but never are these sounds exploited for their novelty: in earnest hands, they only enrich the songs. Not every track grips the listener as the best here do, but every song avoids falling into mere filler, with always enough variation to earn their place in the record.

Vocally, 'Water' manages to stand out from the pack with some lovely lyrics that, like the production, prove the void between pop-by-numbers and pop-by-heart. Just because songs of loss and longing have been done ad infinitum does not mean that they still cannot be done well, and Rebekah has some stellar moments here.

Lead single ‘Nocturn’ packs a subtle lyrical depth into the well-done theme of fraught love, a particularly striking line being in the middle of the first verse: “you settle into what I can only call yourself.” Here there are layers of accusation, fear and love from a narrator watching their partner retreat into a version of the person they knew, familiar and yet strange. Followed by a refrain that haunts this song, “I love you to death I do,” the echo of marital vows contributes further depth. This subtlety in crafting emotionally arresting lyrics marks out Rebekah as a fantastic songwriter, and her hushed, confessional style of singing is well married to her words.

Rainer have all the ingredients of great electronic pop: catchy and stylish production, and expressive and grabbing vocals, and on 'Water' they marry these two things almost perfectly. Irresistible on a singles-basis and impressive as a whole, it is a formidable debut that should see them burst the levees soon.

To find out more about Rainer click here.

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Words by Sam Birkett