Record Review - 2 February 03 2001

It stands to reason that a band named after German symbolist poet Rainer Maria Rilke would manage to use two $10 words — atrophy and anathema — within minutes on their third full-length, A Better Version of Me.
To some, Rainer Maria's seeming pseudo-intellectualism may be what's anathema. But while you may think they need their poetic license revoked, fortunately these veterans carry more than composition books, they know how to carry a tune. A Better Version of Me resonates with the self-assured cadence of poetry in motion.
It's as if Rainer Maria spent the time since their last album carefully studying sound semantics. While some syllables on 1999's Look Now Look Again sounded forced, every word on A Better Version of Me seems handpicked to fit singer/bassist Caithlin De Marrais, whose unbound voice is Rainer Maria's Viagra.
Instead of striving for notes just out of reach, Rainer Maria have reached a point where they know their strengths and play to them. The music on A Better Version of Me is more dense and tense than Look Now Look Again, but it never chokes on squalid squalls. And though the album is far from lacking in strength, melody is favored over muscle.
The name says it all: A Better Version of Me speaks for itself about a band finding its voice, and for all the $10 dollar words there are few better than "great" to describe it.
Rainer Maria play Eyedrum, Tues., Feb. 6.