February 1, 2017

EP: Rather Be - Reservoir

Rather Be's Reservoir is as deep and mysterious as the water supply.

Reservoir, the debut by Rather Be, is an apt title given that the six-song collection is as mysterious, deep, and pure as the water supply. Throughout Reservoir, band members Anna Ladd and Jake Kaplan (with Conner Saltzer featured on drums) have successfully borrowed the angst from the beloved emo songs of our youth and carefully crafted that raw feeling in a more mature and thoughtful manner. For those who have followed Ladd’s solo career prior to Rather Be, it's no secret that she has a knack for illuminating emotions through abstracted language and tangible objects, and this release may be the pinnacle of her songwriting talents thus far. 

Reservoir welcomes us with an upbeat intro song driven by an infectiously catchy bass line, and acts as the lighthearted precursor to the imminent tackling of heavy topics. The second song, “Apricots,” describes a wall bed like it’s an island or an iceberg, and makes the listener feel trapped in loneliness and the growing frustration one feels with extended solitude. The epic ending leads into “In Flames, But Mostly,” which is propelled by the seething ambiguity of Ladd’s words. This is a constant throughout the entire album, where the meaning of the song feels so tangible by how plainly the lyrics are stated, yet it’s still almost impossible to clearly grasp the full picture—but that’s what keeps it interesting. “I don’t mind this bird around my neck” may not make much sense on paper or out of context, but Ladd sings it in a way that almost convinces you that you know exactly what she’s talking about. Ladd has a writing style that's unique and unparalleled. Even in “Gray Area,” which is a more transparent (or translucent, rather) spoken word number complete with step-by-step instructions on overcoming trauma through self re-discovery. It delves into ideas of an evasive god’s ambivalence, the definition of luck, and even finds a metaphor with an oil spill and the duck from the Dawn commercial. While spoken word songs by bands or artists can often feel forced, awkward, and disingenuous, this one acts as the exception to that rule.

The highlight of the release is undoubtedly “Follow Me Around,” which starts with wistful whistling and finishes with a lovely chaotic soundscape echoing the subject's desperate earnestness. It feels almost like the ending to a cinematic masterpiece, but Rather Be gave us one more song to leave us satisfied. The almost jazz-like dreamy nature of “Indigo” is gently juxtaposed against the previous track, and leaves us on the sweet note of “You’re not my good luck charm / but I’m lucky to have you,” just like how we are lucky to have this release of incredible complexity and honesty.


Listen to Rather Be on bandcamp.

Katryn Macko is a Virgo living in Chicago, IL, who was a former member of the bedroom pop band Naps in Tallahassee, FL. She is currently an intern at Flowerbooking, lives at a house venue called Margaritaville, and is the certified #1 fan of the Bud Light Lime-A-Rita brand. She enjoys singing karaoke, beating boys at foosball, and crying to nineties romantic comedies in her spare time.