Almost no one had even heard about Ryn Weaver when her first single OctaHate dropped. Crafted by a veritable who’s who of pop—Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos and Charli XCX—it became a viral hit, despite the lukewarm performance of the Promise EP that followed. The Fool takes several cues from the glacial synth-pop of Promises, never completely breaking that mould but experimenting with folk music in a way that complements the synthetic side surprisingly well.
Of the album’s folk moments, Pierre is the most noteworthy, both for better and worse. It’s a well-produced song, with pleasantly bouncy verses complete with folk-style song writing about its titular character. Its choruses take on the icy pop of the rest of the album, however, leaving it feeling overproduced when the song warrants something rougher around the edges; a minor complaint for an enjoyable song, but a necessary point to make. The title track’s alt rock style shows better execution, keeping the elements for its chorus and surrounding it with the chiming, chirping and vocal sampling that act as the album’s trademark. It also acts as a better example of the album’s production values at large.
The pitch perfect production of Blanco and Angelakos throughout the album allow its not-quite-pop attitude to flourish, and Weaver’s vocals are a good fit for the style. She has power, almost encroaching on the territory of Florence Welch, but with a lighter tone that suits the chiming, almost childishly wondrous sound of the album. But no matter where the album goes, it never quite matches OctaHate. The progression of the simple verses, accompanied with a xylophone, guitar and drums, exploding into a swirling sea of synths and vocal runs for the chorus, is almost heart stopping. Very nearly unfit for a song about being mistreated, but perfect for a song about the emotional disarray it entails.
Simply put, the album is an amazing experience. It’s not as eclectic as you might expect from the delightfully string-laden live cuts of Pierre that litter the internet, but when there’s a level of quality and cohesion like this it’s mostly rendered as a nonissue. Even if the only song to even barely match OctaHate’s level is the title track, the remainder of the album should not be discounted; it’s an amazing production that offers a fittingly grand introduction for her career. Weaver’s struck a vein of pure pop gold with The Fool.