An electrifying, although imperfect, debut that rightfully sets the anti-pop princess on the map.
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. While not the most consistent first effort, Weaver makes a strong, multi-layered statement with a confidently raised fist.
There’s a distinctively alternative take inclined to overtake the shellacked pop overtones of the mainstream industry and its female icons, with Weaver herself writing and performing more like a world-worn bard than a poppy figurehead beyond any stretch. This comes all while welcoming a heavy synth which permeates across the melody and rhythm of just about every track on the record, courtesy of the mindful hands of producers such as Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos and pop figurehead Charli XCX. It’s almost as though the minds of these individuals come together in such a way that they meld their worlds together instead of conforming to anyone’s distinctive worldview, making for a neat amalgam of synth that certainly belongs on the Top 40 charts, but with a weary and intelligent anti-pop nature tagged along with it.
Perhaps this is what gives The Fool what is essentially its most polarizing pillar, as well as its most interesting: while, lyrically, it’s a concept album, there’s something a tinge highly experimental about the overall product. A particularly studied confidence permeates throughout the album, giving it a cohesive quality as Weaver muses her uncertainty towards life’s major decisions while standing on the precipice of the rest of one’s life as a young adult; at the same time, the music is sonically something like Florence Welch meets Alanis Morrissette meets Radiohead meets Gregory Alan Isakov. Listeners will be treated to standup pop anthems, brooding rock-edged gases, funky, electronically-endowed marvels, and low-key aural folk before the album comes to an end.
For some, this may be a plus; it’s certainly the smart career move on behalf of Weaver to highlight all that she is capable of in the first fifteen minutes. When compared to the stronger, more cohesively-crafted concept albums of her industry elders, there’s a quality that leaves it just out of reach of, say, the level of exceptional artform that Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear, another 2015 effort, is generally held at by a similar target audience. What matters here, though, is that Weaver most certainly isn’t a cookie cutter pop artist meant to be totally digested within a singular listen, and that will mean more for her in the long run than if she were to establish herself as yet another trite performer for the bubblegum crowd. The Fool is full of promise, and though it just barely misses the mark as far as greatness is concerned, Weaver’s established that she’s on the right track for deserved potential superstardom.