Ratboys – GN (Topshelf Records)

Genre – Indie rock / alternative / post-country

Chicago duo Ratboys, burst onto the scene in 2015 with their critically acclaimed debut album AOID. Next month they return with their sophomore album GN, which is heavily influenced by Cheryl Crow’s work in the late 90s.

GN offers a bevy of tales, laments and triumphs, which recount near-tragedies by the train tracks, crippling episodes of loneliness, remembrances of a deceased family pet with freezer burn, and much, much more.

Each song takes on its own personality, shifting and breathing within itself. This is all tied together by the group’s self-proclaimed ‘post-country’ sound, which combines moments of distortion and a DIY aesthetic with a devotion to simple song writing similar to the classic Americana principles.

Opening with Molly, Ratboys start with a classic cowboy style TV clip, over soft acoustic finger picking guitar, reminiscent to Primal Scream’s iconic Loaded opening: ‘Just what is it you want to do?’ This soft start explodes into life with Sagan’s infectious chopping riffs and Julia Steiner’s warm, soft vocals that marry together to create a fanciful album opener.

This whimsical style effortlessly fades into the deeper, darker Wandered. Filled with big electric sounds, slow, pounding drum patterns and Steiner’s expressive post-country vocals, Wandered is an catching lo-fi rock track that loses the happy, friendly vibe seen elsewhere on the album.

Ratboy’s self-proclaimed post-country sounds come to life in GN, Peter and Elvis, which see Steiner’s vocals occupy a typical country sounds, rather than the post punk style heard elsewhere. All three tracks are over laid with mild doses of distortion, creating a unique sound that few other acts offer, while Elvis sees Ratboys share deeply intimate, personal details in a heart on your sleeve style.

Overall, GN is an extremely positive step forward for Ratboys, who have managed to avoid the dreaded second album syndrome. The band hit the road this spring for a full UK tour, and they are definitely worth checking out.

RUSHONROCK RATED – 7.5/10 Intimate, personal experiences wrapped in post-country fuzz!