Rainer Maria, soldiering on in the emo trenches, seem to have lost a lot of the angst that pulled them into battle in the first place. At the very least, most of the songs on Long Knives Drawn
indicate that the boys and girl who make up the band aren't quite as sure that emotional apocalypse is just around the corner. Weirdly, this makes for some less-than-emotional emo; songs like "The Double Life" strive mightily to make you believe that the duplicitous existence implicit in the title was a true mindfuck forced on the narrator by the vicissitudes of life and love. On the other hand, no matter how strident Caithlin De Marrais strives to make her vocals on the chorus, the song sounds like a slightly dissonant variant of the louche-pop mastered by bands like Ivy. Similarly, "The Awful Truth of Loving" sounds more like Spent's clever, relaxed tales of umbrella wars than what its title suggests. "The Imperatives" are anything but, and "Situarion: Relation" (which seems titularly suited to be a poster-song for the whole emo movement), is slow and pretty, but borders on dull.
What to make of this, then? Granted, there are some dissonant rave-ups here, especially the excellent "Ears Ring", but for the most part the album features a Sarge-ish pop-rock sound that doesn't play to Rainer Maria's strengths. It's not a bad album -- it's just not particularly notable. At one time, you could have identified a Rainer Maria song with relative ease. Songs like the title track recall that time, but most of the album points toward a future in which the things that made this band interesting have been jettisoned in favor of generic listenability.