There's a violence beneath Caithlin De Marrais' vocals that breathes a sense of life-or-death immediacy into Rainer Maria's "A Better Version of Me." As the Madison, Wis., trio's lead vocalist, De Marrais has windpipes that open wide and hit without warning, sweeping up and knocking the life out of everyone within earshot. De Marrais understands that there's gonna be a broken heart or two buried in everyone's past.
Unfortunately, Rainer Maria's music is too unthreatening for the emotional weight that De Marrais' instant and distinctly dramatic vocals demand. The music is nothing that it could, should or would be if the band weren't confined inside its generic emo formula. "Thought I Was" and "Ceremony" leave traces of blood on the tracks, but most of the album barely scrapes the surface, often sounding bland, ordinary and cowardly.