Review: Ryn Weaver – The Fool

This article was originally published to The Edge on 15th September 2015

It’s been over a year since the super catchy viral hit ‘Octahate’. However most people over in the UK don’t seem to know or talk about Ryn Weaver, which explains why her debut album has arrived almost three whole months after its US release. Produced by Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit and Benny Blanco, who’s credited as a producer on some of the biggest pop songs of recent years, including Maroon 5’s ‘Payphone’, and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Don’t’, Weaver’s debut may not reach near the commercial success of those artists, but it’s a brilliant and intensely personal work.

Weaver is just 23 years old, the ideal age to be told she still doesn’t know anything, but her album is rich in themes of identity and regret, and the feeling of being without place or direction. These aren’t boring meditations: the album is fun pop music. ‘Promises’ showcased her deft lyricism with lines like “my focus is drunk on the floor/and mumbling something about one more” and that obviously isn’t absent from the new tracks on The Fool. It would be impossible to pick a best song for lyrics, but ‘Pierre’ is certainly a highlight. In it, Weaver tells us openly of her sexual and romantic conquests and how she responded to their affections. She doesn’t delight in the simple passion of them, rather seeming regretful that she can’t feel more for them, with a chorus of “I can’t let him in/You call me up and ask me how I’ve been/I’ll call your bluff and/Keep on telling you lies”. ‘Travelling Song’ meanwhile is a sweet and sensitive tribute to her late grandfather that celebrates their relationship. It’s musically very simple, with only Weaver’s vocals and an acoustic guitar sticking out. Even when a song doesn’t work wholly, as with the opening track ‘Runaway’, which changes its own style after the opening bars, there are still tons of brilliant lyrics.

Despite Blanco’s record on previous pop hits, the production has far more in common with Angelakos’ Passion Pit, than on anything else in the mainstream. Which is certainly a good thing. The title track of the album has a closing 16 bars that rivals a Calvin Harris track for its dance mood, but sounds much more in line with ‘Make Light’, the opening track off Passion Pit’s debut. It’s a more upbeat, marginally less quirky song than ‘Octahate’, and just as much fun.

Amongst all this praise it’s worth stepping back and re-evaluating. Maybe it’s because the Promises EP was such a success for Weaver, but all four of those tracks appear on this album and none of them are changed in the slightest. They’re all good to great songs, with ‘Stay Low’ being the low point. That makes the seven entirely new tracks on the album more than a little disappointing, especially if you’ve been eagerly anticipating the album by listening to ‘The Fool’ on repeat, released more than four months ago! Furthermore, the album itself. Weaver’s sound is definitely refreshing and her lyrics display a raw honesty and an artistic awareness, a goal for her entire album. Again, really something to celebrate. But nothing on the album really changes the game. If you don’t know who she is, you’re certainly missing out, but not on anything revolutionary. Just something really, really, ridiculously good-sounding.

The Fool is out now and is distributed by Interscope Records.

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