(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
L'Rain (2017), 7/10 (mini)
Fatigue (2021), 6/10
I Killed Your Dog (2023), 5/10

L'Rain, the one-woman project of New York's keyboardist Taja Cheek, concocted dense jazz-infused dance-pop on the mini-album L'Rain (2017). The way Heavy fuses dense instrumental jam and ethereal vocals is reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins' dream-pop except that the song ends with lamentations over gentle, pastoral, country fingerpicking. A Toes weds that dream-pop with a nostalgic aria and beat from the era of the "ye-ye girls". One moment she's crooning like a seasoned lounge singer against a complex syncopated rhythm and a sax-driven counterpoint (Stay Go) and the next moment she is intoning an Enya-esque lullaby over a rapid industrial beat (Bat). The seven-minute Which Fork is an organic creature that grows from lo-fi bedroom pop to a full-fledged dance-pop ballad and then to a feverish Caribbean-jazz sarabande.

L'Rain's Fatigue (2021) feels more fragile and incomplete, its momentum interrupted by miniscule intermezzos, its songs uncertain and unstable. The confused and indulgent IV is emblematic of the limitations of this album. Two Face recalls some cabarettish prog-rock of the 1970s except that it adds a beat meant to market it to the dancefloor. The two-minute overture Fly Die is a pointless sound collage and the wordless nebula Take Two is an atmospheric closer but hardly revolutionary. And so one is left with just four songs: the six-minute Find It, a somnolent Afro-soul singalong floating through a dense electronic arrangement which unfortunately turns into an amateurish sound collage; Blame Me, which sounds like the murky remix of an old-fashioned jazz ballad; the sedated Suck Teeth, halfway between psychedelic soul of the 1960s and hypnagogic pop; and the surreal, childish and catchy two-minute Kill Self (that "could" have been a great original song). These four would make an excellent EP. Overall this is a humbler work.

LíRain's I Killed Your Dog (2023) in theory contains 16 songs but in practice seven of them are tiny and weak interludes, and half of the others are confused semi-songs. Taja Cheek excels in the macabre catathonic jazz ballad Our Funeral, in the glitchy mantra-gospel r(EMOTE), in the pulsing syncopated prog-jazz Uncertainty Principle and especially in the breezy, dreamy, hazy, folkish singalong 5 to 8 Hours a Day (WWwaG) (delicious psychedelic-jazz coda). She dangerously slips towards cocktail-lounge dance-pop in New Year's Unresolution and loses momentum too many times.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )