ALBUM REVIEW: RATS ON RAFTS – EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 3: THE MIND RUNS A NET OF RABBIT PATHS

Excerpts From Chapter 3: The Mind Runs A Net Of Rabbit Paths is the third album from Dutch band Rats on Rafts (RoR). As album titles go it’s a long one but still not as long as the current Guinness World Record holder for ‘Longest title of a music album’ held by Chumbawamba at a whopping 156 words*. It must have been a tricky journey as it’s been 5 years since 2016’s De Kift and this album is, according to their Tidal bio, inspired by the group’s 2018 Japanese tour with Franz Ferdinand.

It’s hard to single out individual songs on EFC3:TMRANORP as the tracks all whirl around in a wash of treble-boosting, hard-edged tunes that acted like a wormhole back to early 1980s bands who brought a sparseness to their music like The Fire Engines and Josef K and Rats on Rafts themselves cite Echo & The Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes amongst their influences. But whereas songs like ‘A Trail Of Wind And Fire’ and ‘Tokyo Music Experience’ evoke large coats and skulking by the town war memorial there is also a more surreal aspect to their music and tracks like ‘Another Year’ and ‘Fragments’ feel like the descendants of bands like The Residents, Psychic TV and even Kraftwerk (but on guitars).

This is blister pop with a psyche twist (sounds like a cocktail); a collection of fever dreams with a wilful sense of taking what could be straight pop songs and scuffing them up like kids do with new school shoes. My overall impression was that it could be a crazy soundtrack album to film that doesn’t exist yet but it would feature another OTT performance from a swivel-eyed Nicolas Cage similar to Mandy or Colour Out of Space. Definitely a must if you, like me, want to run the risk of getting a paper cut from your music.

Excerpts From Chapter 3: The Mind Runs A Net Of Rabbit Paths is available on digital and vinyl and also a Dinked Edition and Rats on Rafts are David Fagan (vocals, guitar), Arnoud Verheul (guitar), Natasha van Waardenburg (bass, vocals), and Mathijs Burgler (drums)

Review by Paul F Cook

* The record breaking Chumbawamba album title is The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or from Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try to Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother’s Hand-Me-Down Jacket and Re-Style It, Re-Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don’t Just Regurgitate Creative History, or Hold Art and Music and Literature as Fixed, Untouchable and Kept Under Glass. The People Who Try to ‘Guard’ Any Particular Form of Music Are, Like the Copyists and Manufactured Bands, Doing It the Worst Disservice, Because the Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It’s Over, Then It’s Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won.

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