Rika - How To Draw A River Step By Step
Record Label: Count Your Lucky Stars Records/ Goddamn Records
Release Date: February 15, 2013
The world can be a bit rubbish sometimes, can’t it? A lot of things seem to suck. And when things suck, we’re left feeling a bit sad, or angry, or however it is we feel about things sucking, and it’s hard to make that better. One of the things that make the bad things better, though, is music. Considering that this review is posted on a community filled with kids that love and live music, I can safely say the vast majority of us have cried listening to a song, or have had our day improved by the presence of a melody in our ears. We all have those songs that we turn to when we want to feel better, or when we want to wallow (personally, my ‘Really Bloody Sad’ playlist is always a help), and it’s one of the ways that we connect with music. Rika’s How To Draw A River Step By Step is a collection of those songs. Throughout the course of the album, they sit the listener firmly on a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s an emo album, so obviously sadness has its place, but it’s so much more than that. Expect melancholy, euphoria and a whole load of feeling from the very first moment you place your earphones in until the very last struck chord.
Rika, hailing from Austria, are a four piece destined for big things. Recently added to the roster of Count Your Lucky Stars Records - a label that appears to have an inability to do anything wrong - the band meld together the emo of their label mates with a somewhat more accessible, indie rock sound. In a few words, they are what would happen if Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) and Death Cab For Cutie decided (after a bonding session over their unwieldy band names) that they would come together and make a really sad album. The alternation between delicate piano and twinkly guitars throughout the album gives Rika a fresh feel and makes them stand out from many of their peers as being that little more mature in their songwriting. Opener “Restless” is wonderfully delicate, and starts the release off to a beautiful, melancholic start. The hushed, completely unforced vocals allow the piano-led instrumentation to shine and feel truly special. However, it’s not just when wielding a piano that Rika feel special; “See-Through” slowly meanders around tired, deliberate guitarwork to make way for violins. Whilst violins on an emo song may sound a little peculiar, Rika make the transition from noodly guitar to violin seem like the most natural thing in the world. It’s this fluidness that makes Rika just a little bit special. The entire album glides through the speakers with an ease that makes the listening experience not just emotional but enjoyable. It’s so easy to like Rika, they don’t aurally challenge their listener, but are never too saccharine or mundane; it’s easy listening because it’s beautiful.
The only aspect of How To Draw A River Step By Step that isn’t quite perfect is the lyrics. Sometimes they’re a little too clunky or a bit nondescript, but considering that Rika are Austrian, it’s not a particularly big problem. The band manage to make emotive music that doesn’t rely on relating to the lyricism, but on skillful instrumentation. Overall, How To Draw A River Step By Step is a truly excellent album. The band have crafted ten tracks that are worth revisiting over and over again, and can proudly stand alongside classic bands such as The Appleseed Cast and Mineral. Get into this, you won’t regret it.