ALBUM REVIEW: Rain City Drive – Rain City Drive

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A self-titled album often indicates a reinvention or change of direction but for RAIN CITY DRIVE, it represents the completion of a transition that began on their 2020 record To Better Days. The band have now shed two problematic aspects of their identity – former vocalist Jonny Craig and the name SLAVES, which they dropped in favour of an ode to the city of Manchester, where the new line-up met.

After numerous line-up changes comes the post-hardcore band’s fourth studio album. It’s the second full-length with The Voice US alumni Matt McAndrew at the helm, and the first under the new name, as such it feels like a significant moment. But do the songs set up a bright future for the Sacramento quintet?

While RAIN CITY DRIVE have always been a melody machine, this new record sees the band move further into slickly-produced radio-friendly territory, with their heavy basslines and de-tuned guitars lending a metalcore flair to infectiously catchy pop songs. The result is a collection of songs that feel machine-tooled to hit a specific niche, successfully refining the band’s sound but doing little to push it forward.           

Opener Waiting On You sets the precedent for the record, with its bouncy riffs and emotive vocals kicking things off with energy. Gardens Of Misery slows down the tempo, putting the focus on grooves that sees the rhythm section shine. Although the refrain of “don’t dig your own grave” is an earworm, the slower tempo of this track hurts the pacing. Things don’t improve on Dreams, a song focused on an early lost love but one that sonically fails to capture the yearning described in the lyrics. “I still have dreams” croons McAndrew on the bridge, but the line does little more than assure listeners that his REM sleep function remains intact despite his recent heartbreak.

Unsurprisingly given his reality-TV pedigree (the singer was coached by pop megastar Adam Levine), McAndrew’s vocals are consistently impressive across the record. Indeed, his soaring, ultra-clean highs carry tracks like Psycho and Ophelia, with their radio-oriented sensibilities, but his enviable pipes make the biggest impact when paired with the heavier instrumentation. It all comes together brilliantly on Cutting It Close, a mid-album highlight that sees the band’s musicianship and songwriting firing on all cylinders. The closer If I Was Right is another highlight – an acoustic ballad that sees the band experiment with some softer sounds to great effect. 

Ultimately, RAIN CITY DRIVE have produced a serviceable package of radio-friendly rock songs that while lacking in variety, hit more often than they miss. Given the high production value and obvious talent of the musicians, it is a little disappointing that the band didn’t use this opportunity to develop a more distinctive sound. It’s still worth cruising down RAIN CITY DRIVE, just don’t expect to go into fifth gear.

Rating: 6/10

Rain City Drive - Rain City Drive

Rain City Drive is set for release on July 15th via Thriller Records.

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The post ALBUM REVIEW: Rain City Drive – Rain City Drive appeared first on Distorted Sound Magazine.

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