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.
The Fool is an album that’s filled with unforgettable hooks and earworm songs. Obviously “Octahate” stands out, but tracks like “Stay Low,” “The Fool,” and “Promises” could be just as pivotal for the pop landscape in coming years. Rather than an all-out assault on screaming synths, Weaver’s music revels in its dynamism. Some tracks begin with simplistic arrangements, like “Sail On,” a song that begins as a lone guitar riff but gradually is filled with pitch-changed harmonies, robust percussive breakdowns and an almost cinematic rise in melody. On the other hand, “Promises” begins with a loop of chopped-up vocal melodies, only to mesh with subtle guitar lines to build an amorphous texture in which shimmering synths and nostalgic vocals weave in and out of the mix.
While there’s plenty to love about Ryn Weaver’s debut, it still feels like there are some kinks to work out, creative areas that could be tightened. The lyricism can be downright heart-aching, but at times it also feels like she’s fumbling to finalize a melody. However, tracks like “Here is Home” prove that the songwriter is filled with limitless potential. The song opens with skittering synths and unfurls into a simplistic drumbeat that perfectly compliments her swaggering vocal lines. “Even if you stay or if you go/I know you know that here is home,” she sings in the chorus, a powerful proclamation of love’s perseverance that feels as cheerful as it does heartbreaking. Album closer “New Constellations” slowly rolls along as a down-tempo ballad about the restlessness of star-gazers, but within its last minute devolves into a cacophonous blend of spine-chilling shouts of desperation as Weaver inquisitively belts “what if there’s more?” atop a slowly fading melody. It makes for a visceral musical experience that many struggle to create, but Weaver makes feel effortless.
As a debut album, The Fool is certainly an impressive first outing. It’s brimming with authenticity and is clearly indicative of a budding star. There are brief parts of individual tracks indicative of brilliance, but others that show that this young songwriter still has time to figure out her sonic goals. Either way, there’s an astounding amount of patience and restraint found on The Fool, and one can be sure that the 22-year old Weaver will have plenty of great things ahead for her musically.