How To Draw A River, Step By Step

Written by: TL on 19/08/2013 22:34:01

Midwestern USA may very well have become synonymous with its own sub-genre of emo, but that doesn't mean you can't find an occasional (old) continental spin on it. Take for instance Rika, an unlikely three dudes and one dudette from Austria, who have teamed up with seven of their friends to offer "How To Draw A River, Step By Step", a relatively orchestral take on sad tones similar to the ones genre aficianados are bound to recognise from likely influences like Mineral, Kid Brother Collective and/or Joie De Vivre.

Wait, Count Your Lucky Stars Records wouldn't happen to be behind this would they?

Of course they are. So if it weren't for the assortment of extra instrumentation brought to bear on "How To Draw A River..", noticeable mainly in form of piano and then later in form of subtle horn arrangements, many of you will probably be onto what this small town quartet are up to. Should you listen without a second thought however, you might even fail to appreciate those, because Rika plays it very close to their stylistic forebears in terms of mood and composition, with noodling riffs and mopy vocals only gradually and ever so cautiously finding increased support from further voices and instruments.

The best moments I find to arrive in the early "Port Dover", which has a catchy refrain and a beat that's fast for the record (but mid-paced in reality), and in "October", which combines another semi-catchy bit of vocals (particularly the one that includes the song's name) with some nice and weepy violins across the mid-section, before hushing things down momentarily and then letting a guitar slide gradually into a bit of noisy overdrive. The opening piano of "Retrospect" also stands out clearly to me, mostly by virtue of reminding me of a hook Mae used on "The Everglow", but admittedly, "How To Draw A River.." does not offer much in terms of remarkable highlights.

The reason I suspect, is that Rika has wanted to go for atmosphere and immersion as substitutes for dynamics and, sadly, followed those far enough out one end of a metaphorical seesaw to keep the whole of the record somewhat out of balance. Meaning that while the band succeeds at building to some rather lush soundscapes, they do it so subtly and cautiously, that most of the songs on "How To Draw A River.." are the kind where you can latch on to an early melody and then not really notice anything else that's going on before suddenly realising the song is ending. Unfortunately, the only thing sadder than this effect as an isolated case, is the fact that it's a symptom that all too often hinders records like these, anchoring them as rather typical (if moderately enjoyable) genre records, more than properly independant expressions of the chosen aesthetic. A shame, surely, but still also a rather well-executed and sure-handed first effort.

Download: Port Dover, October, Retrospect
For The Fans Of: Mineral, Kid Brother Collective, Joie De Vivre
Listen: facebook.com/rikaband

Release Date 15.02.2013
Count Your Lucky Stars

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