Ratboys – Not Again (Stream)
by Steven Spoerl
Last year, Ratboys quietly put out one of 2016’s best records with AOID, a record that’s only benefited from repeat listens (which have existed in abundance). The band’s returned with the playful “Not Again”, a welcome breath of fresh air. Before going too far into the examination of “Not Again”, though, a handful of other great tunes should be mentioned. Since the start of April, a whole host of worthwhile songs have appeared, including releases from Grieving, Little Scream, Bengtsarvet, Empty Houses, Ultraviolence, LUKA, Dave Harrington Group, The Shaker Hymn, and Greater Pyreneese. Despite those tracks’ formidable strengths, it was Ratboys who secured the feature spot.
AOID saw the quartet sharpening their songwriting approach, fine-tuning how they implemented the folk and Americana attributes of their aesthetic into something that closely resembles basement pop but still manages to sound singular, while faintly recalling some of the finest acts on Saddle Creek, a label that built their reputation on bands who boasted a similar musical blend. “Not Again” finds Ratboys’ songwriting growing even sharper, with the band paying a greater interest to choices in dynamics, resulting in one of their fullest-sounding tracks to date.
Additionally, guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter Julia Steiner has grown more assured in the band’s narrative approach, concocting an acutely-realized dissection on mortality that functions as a celebration of being alive to experience life in its maddening, confounding, and ultimately reassuring fullness. The lyric set here is just as impressive as the crisp instrumental work and production, with everything coming together seamlessly to ensure “Not Again” its rightful place as the band’s current career highlight.
On a level that’s purely concerned with composition, “Not Again” registers as incredibly thoughtful, even for a band that’s already known for their abilities as songwriters. This is never more clear than in the sudden burst of power that closes the song out, following a quiet, enticing bridge. It’s the perfect way to end a song that may very well signal an entirely new level for the band as a unit, both in terms of artistry and commercial success. In any case, the fact that they’re continuing to make music and continuously improving in the process is more than enough cause for celebration.
Listen to “Not Again” below and download it from the band here.