L’Rain creates glittering, warped pop collages on Fatigue | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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L’Rain creates glittering, warped pop collages on Fatigue

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Brooklyn composer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, aka L’Rain, has titled her sophomore album Fatigue (Mexican Summer), but she doesn’t sound tired. Her aesthetic is languidly manic, with an eclectic mix of genres and moods bobbing in and out of her layered, psychedelic orchestral pop. Opener “Fly, Die,” kicks off with washes of voices and instrumental sounds interspersed with sudden stops, like a radio station coming in and out of tune. The rest of the album blithely channel surfs through an alternate realm of interdimensional playlists: sweet, distorted shoegaze pop that transforms into gospel testifying in a basement church (“Find It”), a kids’ jump-rope game interrupted by an electroacoustic intrusion (“Black Clap”), and some sort of broken retro dance (“Two Face”). Album closer “Take Two,” about a toxic friendship that’s beyond repair, sounds like a Dua Lipa track being eaten by an exceedingly stoned Day-Glo revenant. L’Rain’s 2017 self-titled debut was a ravishingly melancholy tribute to her mother, who died during the making of the album. Fatigue is more ambivalent and vacillating in mood; its shifting styles and odd interpolations make its sad moments feel charged with energy and give its upbeat passages an edge of uncanny desperation. Syd Barrett, Marvin Gaye, and Animal Collective all seem like spiritual touchstones, but L’Rain quickly wanders away from them—and from everyone else—to nurture her own “future poison-blooded little babies” (as she sings on “Blame Me”). Her devotion to her own idiosyncratic path makes Fatigue a weird, lovely, and restless album.   v

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