Rat The Magnificent’s debut album has been a few years in the making and you can tell. Every single element of ‘The Body As Pleasure’ has been carefully crafted to create a well rounded album from the London 3 piece who have previously worked with legendary producer Steve Albini, a man who said he would happily have Rat’ as his house band.
Album opener ‘In The Middle’ is Rat The Magnificent At Their Pest. Perry M. Anderson’s haunting vocals sit will on top of a fuzzy of guitars and bass before the track suddenly jaults into a more angular math rock sound. Ross Davies’ bassline is the unsung hero of the track, and probably the whole album, rumbling along keeping the pace and giving each element a reference point for your ears. The merge between this more angular style and the starting grungey riffs is startling well done, two styles that shouldn’t really mix do, and they do it effortlessly.
Second track ‘Martolon’ puts Davies in the spotlight, playing a repetitive doom laden bass riff on top of a drum pattern from Anna Dodridge that sounds fairly simple but in reality keeps the whole track together. Aderson’s vocals float above everything as long, open chords feel your ears with fuzz and the mellow break down feels natural and well placed. ‘Up The Street’ is confident and grungey, a modern take on a sound that was so prominent in the 90’s and the loud, rhymic riffs and beat paired with more shouted vocals make me feel like I could knock down a wall with a single punch.
‘Where You Been’ starts off just as confident but as soon as Anderson’s vocals kick in it feels somehow fragile and sensitive whilst keeping the trademark fuzz this London 3 piece are so good at creating. It is tempting to say that ‘Where You Been’ is almost a transition track into ‘The For’ which is similarly sensitive but that seems harsh. Any other band would be heralded if they released it as a single but instead Rat The Magnificent have used it magically. The whole tracklisting is perfectly thought out and ‘The Body As Pleasure takes you on a journey. ‘The For’ starts with a spacey, dreamy synth before Perry M. Anderson starts singing with emotion I haven’t heard before, it feels like a man pouring his heart out, desperately wanting someone to listen and to care. The laid back instrumentation perfectly hands the spotlight over to the vocals and I challenge anyone to listen to this 5 minute masterpiece without having their heart ripped out.
‘The Parlour’ could easily be a Radiohead song, a droning synth line is topped by a high, wandering bassline and small drum flourishes with heavenly harmonic vocals from Anderson and Dodridge. This is the second track in a row that may surprise fans of the South London 3 piece, it is more laid back and somehow feels rawer. It may surprise those of you who expected an album full of noise and fuzz but I think it accurately reflects the band. All 3 members are kind and caring and have an appreciation of the human soul that most people miss.
‘Olon’ slowly builds up, allowing you to wipe the tears from your face that gathered in the last few tracks whilst giving you the feeling you might need the tissues again. Rat The Magnificent create songs that sound like they come from a place of great pain and the chorus of vocals only amps up this feeling. ‘Illsfla’ is slow and brooding yet again but Davies bass sends rumbles through your heart and makes you want to move around while the guitar part adds an immense feeling of texture and the vocals flow seamlessly in and out, acting as another instrument rather than a focal point. That is until the breakdown where the song changes in mood. Vocals are shouted in anger and when the instrumentation returns fully it feels angry and full or rage despite playing exactly the same parts.
Penultimate track ‘The Inevitable’ features powerful, gutsy guest vocals which rightly take all the attention. They feel like a sucker punch to the gut, only a beautiful one. They convey a different kind of anger and emotion whilst sliding easily on top of the fuzzy, guttural fuzz rock that this band does best.
Closing track ‘Panarron’ is a beautiful surprise that I do not want to ruin. All that I will say is that it shows off that appreciation of the human soul I mentioned earlier and it brought a tear to my eye. Rat The Magnificent feel like that band that everyone should know but don’t. They’re the little secret you want everyone to be in on. ‘The Body As Pleasure’ is a well rounded, carefully planned out album that has had more planning than most bands will demonstrate throughout their whole career. Get your ears around this or miss out on the album of the year.