Rarity
I Couldn't Be Weaker


2.5
average

Review

by BlazinBlitzer USER (8 Reviews)
March 18th, 2018 | 9 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “Hollow soul, hollow body”

Rarity is a post-hardcore/pop-punk hybrid project led by vocalist Loeden Learn. Although this first full release was issued in April 2016, Rarity has been in the pop-punk scene since 2014. After only a year of performing, Rise Records (famous for Of Mice and Men, Sleeping with Sirens, Dance Gavin Dance, PVRIS, etc.) picked them up in early 2015. Rarity quickly got busy and created an EP of their own, Alive In Your Eyes, in that same year. I'll go ahead and argue that this EP's post-hardcore vibe was much more defined and prominent to me than their pop-punk melodies. It's a very short and standard release, but also one that's enjoyable and passionate. I really liked the bite-sized cuts there, and its sound could be represented precisely by a lovechild between The Story so Far and Counterparts. Now take that EP, process the percussion and guitars into oblivion, almost completely replace the atmosphere with more lyrics, and push that out as a full release the next year. That's the accurate origin of I Couldn't Be Weaker.

Let's start this transition with the elephant in the room: the production. Going from the calm, yet “visual” guitar picking on the EP's “Ease” into the downtuned and artificial-sounding guitars and drums on “Hollow” is a jarring experience, for sure. However, that's a totally acceptable move if that “Rise Records” sound holds up well for the album itself. While I would have preferred a more authentic, raw mix, I don't think the production is awful; though it's at best decent and at worst painfully generic. Rarity's compositional songwriting is about as unremarkable as the production, but there are a few bright spots that keep some of the tracks interesting. “Orchid” and “Passenger” leave the traditional radio rock formula for detoured and intriguing finishes with the former giving its guest vocalist a great chance to shine and the latter does so to make a worthy conclusion. “Effexor” is the only other case of this detour, but this track awkwardly ends not even two-and-a-half minutes in. “Exhale” also has an odd instrumental structure, but I found the middle section far too short for the starting and ending segments' lengths. The band's instrumental performances are even less impressive than the compositions or the production. Loeden Learn himself somehow manages to sound monotone even while trying to experiment with different shouts and screams. I do enjoy his clean vocals, however, and I wish he used them more often like he did on “Stranger” and “Exhale”. Any moment with Learn in it was better than Derek DiScanio's terrible feature on “Absent”, whose performance makes me question why he's even there. Guitarists Adam Clarke and Zachary Paterson-Pasquale are tolerable and their pleasant side mostly outweighs their clumsy side. The bookends are defined by great guitarwork and I admire their acts in the first half. The duo of “Realm” and “Absent” are the biggest offenders of the guitarists' bad side as their cheery and bright sounds hilariously contrast with the depressing lyrics. It's especially poor considering the brooding tone of the album's first half. Even for a Rise Records pop-punk release, the drumming is inoffensively mundane. Nearly every beat is pulled from the pop-punk conventions textbook. If there's any consolation here, Evan Wood's ska-punk influenced playing on the first two songs gives those tracks much-needed leverage.

Dragging the record down more than anything else involved with it is the album's lyrical formatting. The lyrics themselves aren't horrendous, but that's primarily because they're very safe and passable pop punk material. What the album critically fails to do with the lyrics is give them a consistent flow throughout the tracklisting. I liked “Hollow”'s unique character perspective because the protagonist doesn't throw a pity party for his troubled companion but rather tells him/her to snap out of his/her temptations and mistakes. Until the fifth track “Orchid”, the protagonist suddenly starts complaining about his own struggles without mentioning the companion's again. When he does come around to doing so in that track, he mentions that he's partially the cause of his companion's conflicts. Along with the accompanying music, that storyline is a refreshing advancement for the entire album. “Realm” then awkwardly kicks off the album's second half with a connection between young generations and the main characters' relationship. Even if cheesy, it's a good concept on its own, but the personal seriousness of the material before it doesn't warrant a more general comparison like that. The next two tracks just do “Hollow”'s story again in different words. Contrary to anticipated direction, the lyrics actually improve on the penultimate and closer; however, they still take an extremely jagged turn in themes. The writing's patchiness leads me to believe that Rarity and Rise Records lazily randomized the track order, which is a huge blow to this album's creativity. Rarity also could've attempted a neat concept or story-based album here with the protagonist's experiences, but the lyrics show no signs of that idea. The result of all of this is an uneven and incoherent story about general pop punk issues.

Despite my many gripes and groans with this record, “outright bad” is not a phrase I would use to describe my experiences. Almost everything about it is very mediocre, though. The patchy songwriting, spotty performances, and uneven story cause this album's peer-separating endeavors to essentially fail. Other than a few cuts that I really enjoyed here, I only recommend this project for the most enthused pop punk and post-hardcore fans.

Recommended Tracks: “Hollow”, “Orchid”, “Passenger”



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user ratings (49)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BlazinBlitzer
March 18th 2018


2028 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Welp, this has been a very long time coming. It's my first review in two years and I probably pissed off McTime with it, but I guarantee you that I found the new The Maine release much better.

aNightingale
March 18th 2018


9 Comments


a tad long perhaps, but otherwise nice work, it's clear you had a lot to say and i appreciate how cleanly you said it. this doesn't look like my thing, but keen on that new maine.

McTime50
March 18th 2018


1021 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I don't believe my eyes.

McTime50
March 18th 2018


1021 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Reviews good, even if I don't agree with the score. Might have to come up with a counter-review lol.



Now for that The Maine review...

BlazinBlitzer
March 18th 2018


2028 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks for the kind words, fellas! And yes, after I finish that long-overdue monthly roundup list, I'll be working that The Maine review ASAP

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2018


5555 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ouch. Nice review & I get the complaints about the production, but I love this album. Passenger is absolutely phenomenal.

bigweinerdon
November 24th 2020


2731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Absent and Hollow are so gas

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2020


5555 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice bump, haven't jammed this in a while but passenger is still huuge

bigweinerdon
November 24th 2020


2731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah dude Passenger is so good. I didn't really get big into The Longest Lonesome, but this and the EP are great



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