Ratboys // GN
GN, the second full-length album by Chicago-based indie rock band Ratboys, feels like the last lingering minutes of stargazing around a fire that's burning down, knowing that the night will soon be over but content to stay with each moment until it is.
Mixing Death Cab for Cutie-style indie rock with Explosions in the Sky instrumentals and a folky vocal undercurrent, Ratboys creates a sound that manages to be both unique and of the moment. Any of the songs would be at home on stations like Alt Nation and XMU, yet are still identifiable as a Ratboys track by the soulful musical swells and quirky, singular lyrics.
The lyrics of GN often flip flop from something whimsical, such as "Turned down loud rockin’ in the pool / I was floating ‘round South Bend like a motorized noodle" in "GM" to poignant and philosophical, like the opening line of "Peter the Wild Boy": "How many lives does it take to ruin a single one?"
Rather than consistently relatable or raw or emotional lyrics, it's the maturity of the music behind them that really grounds the songs and the album as a whole into something more sophisticated. Because of the authority and intention behind the music, most of the lyrics sound purposeful and meaningful, where they otherwise might seem slightly disjointed or silly.
With a full sound and soothing yet sharp vocals in the vein of Middle Kids or a stripped-down Sleeper Agent, Ratboys has achieved a mature, genre-blending album in their latest release GN, and a fantastic launching point for even more musical exploration.
You can listen to GN on Spotify.