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Fatigue Georgie Brooke , June 25th, 2021 08:05

Woozy and cinematic, L'Rain's second album explores emotional growth in fragments and kaleidoscopic swirls, finds Georgie Brooke

I will be the first to admit that I have fallen out of the habit of listening to albums all the way through. I usually pick out favourites and fragments, and leave a few tracks behind. But each track on L’Rain’s new record Fatigue deserves to be listened to in succession. It needs you to sit down with a cup of tea, it needs to be envisioned and thought through. You need to let it embody a change for you, and take you somewhere else, where you can sit in the duality of your own emotions. Each song is preceded by an interlude to piece the emotions of each track together. The first of those interludes, ‘Fly, Die’ asks us, “what have you done to change?”. This is the key question that the album as a whole sets out to explore: how do we change and expand ever outward?

‘Round Sun’ starts with a sounds that feel like listening to passing busses from the future, vibrations expanding and fading like red shift. The noise swells, and wavers into the next song, ‘Blame Me’ alongside a backdrop of twangy synth and hi-hat shimmers. L’Rain (aka Taja Cheek) repeats an interesting sentiment, that recognises the trauma of the past but takes us in direction that moves away from it: “You were wasting away, my god / I’m making my way down south.” she repeats with her hauntingly gentle voice, that rings out amongst cinematic bursts of timpani. It sounds like a reflection of the helpless guilt of watching someone you love deteriorate.

‘Black Clap’ begins with the sounds of slapping palms in a children’s hand clapping game. You can feel the noises as though coming from your own hands. I think Cheek wanted us to feel this, to be transported back to childhood nostalgia with the fuzzy noises of a video tape rewinding. This evocation of the human body as a site to deliver of musical noise flows into ‘Suck Teeth’. Cheek chose the title to encapsulate a “very Black sound of disapproval, annoyance, and disappointment”. This song is a parade of vivid sounds and heady whispers of “poison dripping down to me into you”. L’Rain is trying to make us feel intentionally woozy with their warbling guitars spiralling out over a jazzy rhythm section. Nearly every element of the song has two to three layers of pitch modulation to mimic the unease Cheek has around motherhood, and her anxieties about passing on failure to the next generation.

‘Two Face’ is a heady R&B cacophony, which is experimentally chaotic yet balanced. The song was written about Taja’s friend, who was a Gemini (hence the title). The lyrics imagine a fragmented conversation between the two friends as Cheek asks “will you let me in?” as she reflects on the anguish associated with the dissolution of their friendship. Filled with kaleidoscopic swirls of spectral sounds, the song sounds haunting when Cheek is singing the most hopeful words, whilst the most somber words are accompanied by sunny whirls of synth. This feels like an exploration of the duality of human emotion, moments of joy in the wake of despair, love and hurt.

L’Rain envisions a kind of psychic city, each dominion anchored to distinct emotions. We fly through it, amongst the buzz of city life, roads with police sirens and the resistance of air. We catch glimpses of people’s interactions on the street, hear their laughs, hums, cries, claps, stories and feelings. In L’Rain’s genre-subverting world, emotions do not exist in singularity.