RATBOY – CIVIL DISORDER

I’m almost certain that it’s safe to say Essex native Jordan Cardy and his band have been creating huge waves in the indie scene for the past 3 years, and with 2017 seeing the release of the highly anticipated debut album “SCUM”, a gritty britpop soundscape painting a post brexit scene of a broken and divided Britain, and exploring some pretty heavy topics like gentrification, identity, a disheartened youth and with the occasional love song, who knew where the 21 year old would go next?

Luckily we didn’t have to wonder for long, Ratboy has kicked off the year with an all new EP featuring artists Lord Apex, Clams Casino and L Devine.

With the bold title “CIVIL DISORDER” written in the already iconic style over some 90’s looking photography, we can already get a glimpse at the mood the mini album has in store for its listeners.

We’re drawn into the EP with “TEENAGE TEARAWAY”, with its lethargic intro, eerie beats and fierce verses the track shows the artist exploring some cleaner styles while still maintaining that familiar grimy performance that we’re all used to. We’re quickly shown how Ratboy has improved in the short space between the album and the ep, not only as a lyricist, but as a producer and performer.

“BE MY ANIME” premiered on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 a day prior to the release, fans tuned in to be blasted with easily one of the best instrumentals from Cardy, along with hard hitting vocals mixed in with an atmospheric r&b chorus from feature L Devine, this second track feels a lot more personal, with jagged themes of self-destructive behavior bleeding into the beats from the almost angry sounding verses.

“KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK” is the second track on Cardy’s 2015 mixtape “NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH”, a loud, sample heavy track following a real life hostage event the artist went through as a teen, the track made its way onto the debut album in an all new, re recorded light as well as being sampled by Kendrick Lamar on his 2016 track “LUST.” and now it seems Ratboy has followed up the classic tune with a part 2.

“KNOCK KNOCK, PT. II” introduces Lord Apex into the mix, the third and final feature of the EP delivers a slick verse with an easy going flow, managing to give you some breathing space in between the hectic party of in your face drum tracks and upbeat samples. As per the usual the vocal performance is on par with Ratboy’s reputation for gritty bars along with a unique blend of nonsense and politically driven lyrics.

Fourth track “SLAVE TO THE SYSTEM” isn’t in anyway subtle about it’s political message, before we even listen to the track we can tell by the title this isn’t just going to be another carefree bop, the simple beat and soft basslines clashing with Cardy’s vocals fits perfectly in place with the mood of the track, Here we see Ratboy telling it how it is in today’s Britain for the working class; Dead end careers, youth being poorly treated, blatant propaganda, the illusions of free speech and ruthless gentrification, all pinning it on a heartless government. These themes aren’t new to Jordan’s music, 2014’s “The Mixtape” touches on a lot of these problems as well, so it’s nice to see new found fame hasn’t sunk its teeth too far into the artist.

“PUBLIC IDENTITY” is undoubtedly the anthem of the EP, it’s rock orientated riffs and slick progressions combined with a killer chorus lead to a more punk sounding, in your face rock and roll Ratboy, and with the clear 70’s and 80’s American and British punk influences beginning to seep into the production, the atmosphere of “CIVIL DISORDER” begins to change.

By the time we reach “REACTIONS”, we’re already ten minutes into an agenda heavy project showcasing a newer and louder Ratboy, the penultimate track lays all the cards on the table as the hip hop, britpop and punk influences clash and burst into an explosive track filled to the brim with high octane vocal performances sprawling across an ear piercing soundscape, including a vicious guitar solo that’ll take even the longest of fans by surprise.

And then we’re left with “OH NO”, while the atmosphere is much (much) more calmer than the previous three, listeners will still be rocking their head back and forth to the gorillaz esc final track, the synths blend in with the electric guitars to create a track that sounds like it belongs on a Jet Set Radio soundtrack; it’s upbeat, fast paced and ends just as quickly as it started. While it might be the emptiest song off the record in terms of political commentary, it still delivers with loud vocals and clean flows, conflicting with heavy riffs and almost headache inducing drum tracks.

Ratboy just seems to be one of those artists really doing something different, after years of wearing his influences on his sleeve it feels like (especially with this mini album) he’s finally come into his own style, that specific mixture of 90’s hip hop and Blur inspired britpop blended with modern rap samples and beats is something hardly anyone else is attempting on the scene right now, and I personally think this amount of originality is rare when looking at the endless waves of upcoming indie bands.

Words by Sam Harris.

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