It must suck being a teenager today. It sucked enough in the mid-00’s, but at least there was no Instagram then, no existential terror generated by your friends failing to like your selfies, and no potential for a nuclear winter ahead of exam season.
I envy younger millennials one thing though, and that’s having Rat Boy to soundtrack their youth. Essex scruff-bag Jordan Cardy, who was a teenager himself when he released SIGN ON back in 2015, has finally given us SCUM, a fifty-eight minute riot tuned to Teenager FM, and it’s fucking brilliant.
The full-length tears through everyday skits (“I’ve just got to nip up the Co-Op…I think they’ve got a working cash machine”) and serious political realities (“we’re not so far from World War Three”) in a thickly-accented vernacular that’s as British as the Burberry check moped featured as cover art.
With clattering drums, mangy guitar parts and a fuzzy thread of tech-inspired sound effects, Rat Boy and co. imitate the chaos of modern life, their mucky bops jumping up and down on your brain in scuffed Vans.
Cutting through all the noise comes Cardy’s Jamie T-esque vocal, which is complicit in the fucked up rituals of modern youth while simultaneously acting as its mentor.
To wit, album opener TURN ROUND M8 (whose title couldn’t be more British if it came wrapped in newspaper), advises its listeners to “turn around, walk away” from confrontation (though not by Cardy himself, as if he himself isn’t quite there yet). Despite this, the track’s opening line “the cunt stunk of skunk” makes sure we know that this LP isn’t going to be some sort of advice pamphlet your conservative aunt would approve of.
Instead, SCUM is the mate that will debate homelessness with you, before nicking three bottles of liquor out of their parent’s cupboard.
Sitting at the centre of Britain’s working and lower middle-class, this is an album held together by under-desk chewing gum and the sticky carpet in your local Wetherspoons.
It travels through apathy (MOVE), political unrest (BOILING POINT) and the disintegration of relationships (ILL BE WAITING), via skittish interludes voiced over by Grand Theft Auto voice Lloyd Floyd.
This, as well as the fact that it’s an LP charged by little nostalgia traps, like the Nokia jingle and the sound of a USB ejecting, makes SCUM a tribute to modern youth, Burberry check and all.