Philadelphia-based Elaine Rasnake’s album Breathe Again unfolds like the diary entries of a girl on the precipice of adulthood. Album opener “Lighter/Brighter” is a twinkling, minimalistic track that aptly introduces the electronic sensibilities that will be explored on the album, followed by “3AM”, one of the strongest tracks on Breathe Again. Rasnake’s crisp and dreamy vocals float atop a simple acoustic guitar as she sings of self-reflection and personal growth in the early morning hours. “3AM” quickly diverges into an uptempo, electro-pop song akin to something off of an Owl City record. Breathe Again does seem, according to the Rasnake’s Bandcamp, an attempt to seamlessly blend acoustic-folk and electronic influences. This seemed to prove a decidedly difficult feat considering only half of the songs on the eight-track album employ any electronic elements. “End of the Night” serves as the best representation of Rasnake’s mission, reflecting the desire to merge genres with its sweeping synths and soft acoustic guitar picking. “End of the Night” is a sentimental, coming-of-age song sprinkled with well-integrated electronic production and a catchy hook. Rasnake lays the electro-pop stylings on thick with “Spacesuit”, a song that could easily jolt a listener back to 2006 when bands like Hellogoodbye would play continuously over the speakers at your local Hot Topic. While it doesn’t feel as compelling as the three previous tracks, “Spacesuit” is a fun, youthful, and well-produced song that serves as a sort of conclusion for the first half of the album.
Breathe Again takes a rather abrupt shift with the final four tracks, with none boasting the same sort of electro-pop production sensibilities as the aforementioned songs. “Untitled 1” has a deliberately demo-like feel with very simple instrumentation and lo-fi production. Rasnake’s strong vocals and beautiful harmonies make up for what is otherwise a rather lackluster and ill-fitting song. The album’s fifth track “Anywhere” is an absolutely stunning song and undoubtedly one of, if not the strongest on Breathe Again. The grade-A production and Rasnake’s warm vocals are mixed with the effervescent ooh-aahs, snaps, and claps that have become standard in the world of radio-friendly folk-pop. “Wildfire” and “Breathe Again” maintain this stripped-down, acoustic-folk sound with Rasnake’s now whispy vocal contrasting heavily with the punchy pop vocals heard on the previous tracks. This is not unwelcome by any means, in fact, the intimacy and vulnerability of Rasnake’s words are no longer at risk of becoming muddled under the innately overpowering qualities of electronic-pop production.
By the end of the eight-track album, it may feel as though one listened to two very distinct projects. One being pop-influenced electronic folk eager to take on exciting and unconventional properties and the other being a more straightforward acoustic project that finds its footing with Rasnake’s impressive vocals and songwriting abilities. However, there is validity in both styles as the musical choices evolve in a similar manner as the album’s overall message of finding oneself. While the album may not be Rasnake’s most cohesive work to date, compared to a previous album like 2014’s DEALS, it is a testament to her talents not only as a musician and songwriter but as a producer and engineer. As previously mentioned, Breathe Again unfolds like the diary entries of a girl on the precipice of adulthood, and it is a diary I certainly would not mind reading more of.
- Personal & Honest lyricism
- Well produced and well written
- Consistently strong vocals
- Lack of stylistic cohesion between the first and second half of the album
- Inconsistency with genre blending
- The more well-crafted songs like “Anywhere” and “3AM” highlight the weaknesses in songs like “Supersuit” and “Untitled 1” to the extent that the latter feel unnecessary