Ratboys, a five-piece indie group out of Chicago, is one of those bands that forges its own path while touching on a lot of familiar sounds and genres. I find myself comparing them from other artists from time to time, sure, but I can’t think of another band that actually sounds quite like them. They go their own way, as Lindsey Buckingham might say. They go their own waaaaaaaaaay!
Ratboys released its second album, GN, at the end of June, and it’s a compelling, consistent listen from its first track to the last. While their debut, 2015’s AOID, seemed to lean more on acoustic guitars and straightforward arrangements, this new record finds the band sounding bigger and more confident than ever before.
GN begins with two of its strongest tracks, “Molly” and “Elvis is in the Freezer.” The former plays like a mission statement of sorts, with Julia Steiner’s sweet, charming vocals blending perfectly with an even mix of clean and fuzzed out electric guitars. “Elvis is in the Freezer” is slightly more menacing, with lyrics about dead and dying animals and a lead guitar part raw enough to make Neil Young proud.
The album’s fourth song, “Control” is maybe my favorite on the entire record. “I almost saw a train wreck,” Steiner sings, sounding a bit like a wild-eyed, mischievous Jenny Lewis. “Then I had to look away/ Never had I wondered before/ What happened when metal bent and tore.”
Other highlights include “Dangerous Visions,” a hushed rocker that would have fit right in on an early Breeders record, and “Peter the Wild Boy,” a beautiful closing track that starts out simple and slowly gets more and more grandiose.
Overall, GN is a really fun, enjoyable indie rock record. Ratboys somehow recalls 90s indie rock, 70s classic rock and 60s country music all at once while still sounding 100% modern and original. It’s a hell of an album, and I highly recommend it. Along with (Sandy) Alex G’s Rocket, this is one of my favorite rock records of 2017 thus far.
Check it out below …