Music

Rahim: Ideal Lives

Liam Colle

Rahim is something of a rarity -- a good band now that promises to get even better later.


Rahim

Ideal Lives

Label: French Kiss
US Release Date: 2006-04-04
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

It's rare that a band can sound like they're coming from a particular time and place, while not getting stuck to contemporary circumstance alone. TV on the Radio and the Rapture come to mind as recent standouts that represent the best of their respective genres, and at the same time reach beyond simple categorization. It's a tight wire to walk: on one hand doing justice to your influences, while on the other hand not drowning in the passing styles that end up dating a band.

It would seem that Rahim might be that rare band whose stylishness could last. I'll refrain from dubbing them timeless, since they've only just released their debut record. But judging from the progress made since their debut EP, Jungles, they should have a lot more waiting that would earn them such praise. They've fast emerged from their Dischord post-hardcore shell and have staked a claim on respectability in their own right with Ideal Lives.

On this, their debut long player, the NYC-based rhythm mavericks take their fist-pumping agit-pop to a new level. Plugging the gaps with actual songwriting, Ryan McCoy (bass, percussion, vocals, keyboards), Michael Friedrich (guitar, percussion, vocals), and Phil Sutton (drums, percussion) have created a likeable and exciting album. They maintain the gym class hyper style of Jungles and add to it a diversity of song and structure. That means there are slower, less-danceable numbers served along with the herky-jerky provisions. And like the Rapture's Echoes, they're able to sustain an entire album thanks to such a breadth of expression.

Never mind song to song, Rahim seem to balance between different poles almost note to note. They switch between reflection and action consistently and effectively throughout Ideal Lives, and that prism effect keeps you coming back to songs like "Only Pure" and "Desire" over and again. Syncopated guitar and voice deflect off the insistent beats and it shines bright and precarious. Rahim kick it on a glass dancefloor.

Notwithstanding the unsurprisingly snarty vocals, Ideal Lives keeps you guessing throughout. The band switches gears at the drop of a hat and is able to pull off a variety of modes. It's a beautifully conceived (and sequenced) album in that way – as if it were permanently set on shuffle. The twerpy vocals can be off-putting, however, especially in the midst of J. Robbins's (the Promise Ring, the Dismemberment Plan) open-concept/hollow production. But when the band is firing on all four cylinders (guitars, drums, keyboards, voice), their sound is full-fledged and the vocals make more sense.

On Ideal Lives, Rahim sound decidedly contemporary, without coming up lame to the worst of genre stylistics. They come off as emo and dance punk and post-hardcore, but they avoid the uninspired characteristics that render other such bands so datable. And to this band's credit, genre touchstones don't do Rahim justice. They've still got a ways to go if they want to become exceptional, but it sounds like they're on a right path.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.