Release Date: Jun 16, 2015
Record label: Geffen
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Ryn Weaver can, at times, sound like an artist undergoing an identity crisis. The Argentina-born singer’s debut album swings from indie folktronica (New Constellations) to EDM-fuelled stomp-pop (Pierre) to the gentle hip-hop leanings of early Lana Del Rey (Stay Low). Her brilliant 2014 viral hit OctaHate managed to do all of these things in three and a half minutes.
Very rarely do artists find themselves in as favorable a position as Ryn Weaver has for her debut full-length. But by no means should that be attributed to major-label antics and music biz politics; when her 2014 hit single “Octahate” hit Soundcloud, it propelled to over a million listens in just a week’s time due to the singer’s sheer display of talent and urgency. Those same skills attracted the likes of Benny Blanco and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, who together have helped Ryn Weaver become a tight act whose pop brilliance leans on theatrical, personal and universal at the same time.
It’s a fact that she had solidified as early as the June 2014 release of “OctaHate”; Ryn Weaver is not your typical, run of the mill pop princess. In The Fool, there’s a witty lyrical conceptualization which acts as a scoby attached to the innermost philosophies of a woman’s mind as she challenges whether the commitments that she had prepared herself for her entire life are really for her; something resounding as both a feminist and a wholly encompassing statement regarding the decision of whether to settle down or satiate one’s wanderlust. There’s a confident trill to her vocal that is not unlike an early Bright Eyes record, though further studied and more tastefully interspersed throughout the album.
Let’s talk about trilling. The rapid, stuttering vibration in what would otherwise be a long, smooth note can, when used in a non-gimmicky fashion, give off a moving and anxious feeling of venerability while on a technical level showcasing precise control. This powerful, almost paradoxical musical tool, has its roots in older Baroque music and a newfound appreciation in trippy production, is fittingly integral to the much-hyped pop newcomer Ryn Weaver, who burst onto the scene last summer with her electrifying “OctaHate.” Her confidently unsteady voice has a refreshing energy, serving as a cohesive, quivering throughline for her intentionally nomadic debut, The Fool.
Ryn Weaver first made waves via "Octahate," a 2014 viral hit co-written with Charli XCX, Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos, and Benny Blanco, a collaborator with Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and Maroon 5 -- a credits list that hints at the style and ambition displayed on her 2015 debut, The Fool. Still, it's only a hint. Weaver does share some semblance of Charli XCX's savvy pop sense but she veers closer to the moodiness of Lorde and the cool majesty of Florence + the Machine, occasionally wandering into a bit of coffeehouse poetry left over from Alanis Morissette, such as the a cappella coda to "Traveling Song," which at first feels improvised but is too precise in its execution to be anything other than preordained.
Last year, 22-year-old Ryn Weaver broke through to online stardom with "OctaHate" — a supercatchy yet left-of-center pop jewel that drew on the Top 40 flash of Benny Blanco and the indie leanings of Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos, both co-producers on the track. The California-born artist's full-length debut revels in the same eclectic sensibility on warped, sparkling tunes like the title track and "Stay Low." Elsewhere, on the sleepy ballad "New Constellations," she channels her inner Mumford to less exciting results. The biggest highlights on The Fool ("Here Is Home") balance both of those instincts, tempering folky ache with subtle, twinkly beats.
Ryn Weaver knows how to keep you on your toes. On her debut album, The Fool, she draws on a range of raw emotions, resulting in a series of songs in which she continually contradicts herself. She sings that she can be “broken by the breeze,” though she is also a “wild thing to tame” on “Free”. The Fool moves though various tempos and arrangements, keeping an electropop backbeat and frequently cobbling what could be two or three separate songs into one.
Last June, out of nowhere, Los Angeles-based pop-singer nobody Ryn Weaver released a song called "OctaHate" and overnight became a somebody. Myriad music blogs, fresh off the latest think-piece about "poptimism," snatched it up and, along with buddy and co-writer Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit, gave it the buzz and indie cred that usually lead to success. It's easy to hear why, too: "OctaHate" is an effortlessly effervescent pop masterpiece complete with a planet-sized chorus and driving percussion.
In 2014 it felt like a major shift in the pop zeitgeist was finally taking hold. The barrier between Top 40 radio and the avant-garde was crumbling. Superstars like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé aggressively asserted their autonomy as artists and a new crop of pop stars, like FKA twigs, launched sorties on the pop charts from small clubs and social media platforms.
Ryn Weaver shows off at the close of “Traveling Song,” a folky, waltzing farewell, possibly an elegy, that arrives near the end of her debut album, “The Fool.” The backup drops away, and she keeps singing, a cappella and not obviously processed, about a man “who taught me to love like a beast and feast like the queen that he fed turtle soup,” she sings. “He said: ‘Shoot for your dreams, little girl. To the stars!’ ” It’s ardent, musically confident and openly careerist; it also shows her willingness to be odd.
Last summer, OctaHate, an electro-pop number with an easy marimba beat and memorable chorus, mysteriously emerged on Soundcloud. It quickly became a massive hit, with millions of listens. Behind the tune was 22-year-old New Yorker Ryn Weaver (and Benny Blanco, producer of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream and Maroon 5's Moves Like Jagger, among other pop hits).
Ryn Weaver opens her first album, The Fool, with a song called “Runaway”, and you might as well. It’s not that her music’s particularly bad. In a way, that would be less offensive. It’s that, in a musical landscape increasingly defined by bold, innovative, and powerful female pop stars, it’s too bad Weaver will bogart airtime away from the artists who’ve pioneered the genre she parodies with an album cobbled together from their scraps.