rainer

In indie pop’s annuals of near misses you’ll find the past works of Nic Nell and certainly Rebekah Raa, both of whom were cruelly overlooked in 2008 – him pipped by the quickly fabled Esser and other boys making ‘wonky pop’; her and her danceable art group Stricken City a fraction too late for the indie disco boom. Rainer could be a project full of panic and the tacky emulation that comes with the pressure of needing-it-to-work-this-time, yet most of this debut album remains undistracted by vogue ideas and a desperation to shift some serious units.

That isn’t to say that ‘Water’ is an avant-garde listen, or that is doesn’t resemble other contemplative pop records from time to time (Purity Ring in the manipulated vocals of ‘Nocturn’; Lana Del Ray on ‘Skin’), rather that Rainer’s approach to the male producer/female vocalist mould is more restrained than others. It works, too.

Nell pulls his punches where you expect him to crank out the usual trap beat on the usual 303, while his electronics (best of all his glockenspiel) flutter about in the background. Casually Here – Nell’s producer moniker – says it all.

Raa – with lyrics about tricky love that firmly centres the record with a theme of pick-yourself-up – then dares to sing not in girlish sing-song but in a deep, breathy tone; that of an adolescent no more, but a proud woman. It’s a striking defiance that appears comfortable with an uncertain future.

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