God Is A Woman
The path of Sweden’s Rein has taken a bevy of turns in a comparably short period. With a minimalist and rhythmically forward approach to body music as a baseline, Joanna Reinikainen has moved from an admiration for anarcho-punk in her earliest material to pop-inflected EDM on the Freedom EP to the tightly dialed in fusion of EBM and Rhythm Nation-style R&B on 2020’s breakthrough Reincarnated. Now, with second LP God Is A Woman a host of new sounds and influences are again added to the mix, though with far less unity or payoff than on Reincarnated.
Much of God Is A Women keeps things cooler (though no less rhythmically precise) than we’re used to hearing from Rein, with the industrial samples and aggressive vocals which were part of Reincarnated‘s delivery left aside for more restrained and robotic delivery. That works well enough on the pinging kicks of “Mutual Satisfaction” and pinched bass programming of “There’s No Tomorrow”, both of which have the same rhythmic panache as whichever Rein tracks you’d care to point to as the project’s best, though even highlights like these feel a bit underwritten.
God Is A Woman‘s failings emerge when it reaches for styles it simply cannot execute, either in terms of composition or vocal. The pop ballad ambitions of “Kiss You Goodbye” just don’t have the hooks or depth of production to keep it aloft, and the mid-tempo drift of “Snakes” has neither the drive nor venom its theme of wary distrust would seem to call for. Often these problems are as much a function of Reinikainen’s personality and vocal charisma as much as anything. She simply sounds out of place adjusting the monotone she’s worked with in the past over to the slurred hip-hop delivery of “No Rules”, and seems hollowly saccharine on the Burial-styled ghostly 2-step of “For You”.
Rein’s propensity for cross-genre experimentation and the introduction of unexpected influences (from Crass to Janet) is a big part of what’s brought her so far. God Is A Woman doesn’t miss the mark on principle, but on execution. Whether the result of a rushed cycle resulting in underdeveloped material or simply trying to introduce too many styles at once, coming after the success of Reincarnated it can’t help but feel like a disappointment.