Review: RAT BOY; SCUM

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.

A post shared by dimanebo inc. (@modernrock.ru) on


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.

Palm Honey: An Interview


Jeremy Corbyn has pissed off Palm Honey. “He’s upset me” deadpans frontman Joseph Mumford, who is miffed that their BBC Introducing set at Glastonbury “clashed with Corbyn.” Whether that’s because the Reading four-piece were forced to miss the speech that drew one of The Pyramid’s largest ever crowds or because said crowds didn’t turn up to watch Tucked Into The Electronic Wave live isn’t clear.

Those who did prioritise their set experienced a moving stream of dream-pop psychedelia, which the band (Joseph Mumford, Harrison Clark, Seb Bowden and Ayden Spiller) repeat tonight for a rapturous audience in the basement of Stoke Newington’s Waiting Room.

Palm Honey don’t write about politics. But that’s only for fear of sounding “too preachy…we don’t want to sound like U2 or something” grins Mumford. Outside of the studio though, politics is a “second favourite” after music. Though his speech clashed with their set, Palm Honey “still love” Corbyn for his honesty and principles: “he’s stood for the same things his whole life and hasn’t been interested in careerist nonsense.”

In particular, it’s the contrast with the grotty politicians we’re used to that make Jezza so appealing: “people are fed up with nonsense fake politics and those who dictate the media are completely out of touch with people in general.” Despite this, the frontman also predicts the sticking power of the current Conservative government, propped up by the DUP: “far worse things have lasted in government…I think they will probably last a while because people will forget and become apathetic.”

A post shared by Harriet Brown (@harriet_lnb) on


On a far less depressing note, and one that we’re always happy to discuss: vinyl. As for all of our alumni, records are a “ritual”, and for Palm Honey, it’s the fact that records encourage fans to “actually listen to the whole body of work” that make them so important to a music industry drowning in corporate interference. “We are big believers in format: in an EP or an album and I think it’s important that people listen to music in that context rather than taking things out.”

With a record (You Stole My Blackout/Bones) already out on Flying Vinyl, Palm Honey return this autumn with Starving Hysterical Naked. Mumford “loves Ginsberg a lot”, though the song title (a line from fifties Beat Poem Howl) was chosen for the aesthetic more than any affinity the new material has with the poem: “it’s a stark image and I think a song title should give you an idea of its aesthetic.”

“Not as pop-y” as previous records, the upcoming track shares affinity with Ginsberg’s classic through its mood: “it’s the darkest, heaviest and most dissonant thing we’ve put out.” We hope you’re as excited as we are!

 


 A version of this article first appeared on the Flying Vinyl Blog here