ALBUM REVIEW: ‘INTERNATIONALLY UNKNOWN’ by Rat Boy

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WRITTEN BY: AnnaMarie Otor

On January 25, RAT BOY released his sophomore album INTERNATIONALLY UNKNOWN. Working with Tim Armstrong of Transplants (also notably in Rancid and Operation Ivy), the work was recorded primarily in Los Angeles over the course of six weeks. Nearly two years since his debut album SCUM in summer 2017, he returned with another level of brash, complete with his signature distorted riffs and anti-authority attitude that appeals to his fan base and remains a credit to how he carries himself outside of his music.

RAT BOY is the project and identity of Jordan Cardy, a 22 year old from Chelmsford in England. Growing up in the small town, his namesake came from his evident rat-like appearance as a child. His pursuits always included creating art in someway, often taking precedence over other aspects of life such as school. Releasing various mixtapes & EPs, he garnered notice from Parlophone Records in 2015. From touring with the 1975 that same year to being sampled in “LUST.” on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. all before the release of his debut album, Cardy made a considerable mark early on. An avid visual artist additionally, he has his own emerging clothing line, Scum, and designs all of the visual aspects of RAT BOY. His music is a melting pot of varying genres including a distinct intersection of hip hop and punk, often noting inspiration from artists such as The Beastie Boys, The Clash, and Public Enemy, for example.


INTERNATIONALLY UNKNOWN was prefaced with the release of the titular track, accompanied by a music video this past November. Additionally, tracks “CHIP ON MY SHOULDER,” and “NO PEACE NO JUSTICE” were released the same day, the latter featuring a verse from Tim Timebomb. The last single released in early January, “DON’T HESITATE,” was also accompanied by a music video, giving strong Beck-like vibes in a revitalized way.

Standout tracks that complement Cardy’s scathing, energetic presence include “MY NAME IS RAT BOY,” “I WANNA SKATE,” and “SO WHAT.” These songs in particular highlight what Cardy does best — produce music that captures the voice of the skate-punk generation, filled with angst and a blaring twinge of sticking it to the man. For example, in “I WANNA SKATE” he blares “I do it for me, I don’t do it for them, I never wrote a song for the businessmen.” The rambunctious style of these songs stand out for the comforting knowledge that they are the surface reflection of RAT BOY as a whole.

On the slightly tamer side, “FOLLOW YOUR HEART” and “NIGHT CREATURE” balance as slight breathers. The former in particular was well done, a blend of revamped, elevator-like waiting music. As the name implies, it is more of a confidence building, feel good track that still addresses the toiling times that we live in and the importance of picking yourself back up. Singing lowly in the chorus, “When the people give you nothing, follow your heart. When the city strikes down everything, follow your heart,” it is difficult not to consider his words in a larger context.

A personal favorite of the work, “DAD’S CRASHED CAR” may sound straight out of the climax of a coming of age movie, it feels particularly fitting as an ode to finding some level of sanity in a barrage of struggle. Guitar driven and reminiscent of Green Day in particular, the simple chorus is guaranteed to dance around your mind.

Ending the album on a more sentimental and humbling note, “SILVERLAKE” pays homage to people instrumental in making the album, and RAT BOY, possible including his live band. Noah Booth (drums), Liam Haygarth (bass), and Harry Todd (guitar) are often seen in several of his music videos, and also provide part of the crucial stage presence that fans characterize with RAT BOY. Additionally mentioned, Thomas Davis (a freelance director and photographer) is an integral role in the creation of RAT BOY’s music videos & photographs as well.

The album itself is difficult to characterize sonically in one finite way, but Cardy stays true to his creative and experimental side that makes RAT BOY a fun, unpredictable force. Always keeping fans on their toes, Cardy is not afraid of pushing boundaries and trying things in a slightly unorthodox, DIY fashion. Constantly creating all facets of the RAT BOY identity (through music, visuals, clothing, etc) it is in his nature to produce work that typically would not make sense together cohesively — but in his case, does. In comparison to the process of his debut album, his goal here was to make something more raw and personal while learning from past mistakes.

INTERNATIONALLY UNKNOWN is now available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and Soundcloud. RAT BOY will also be embarking as support for ska-punk band, The Interrupters, on their North American tour beginning later this month.

Tracklist:

  1. CHIP ON MY SHOULDER
  2. MY NAME IS RAT BOY
  3. DON’T HESITATE
  4. I WANNA SKATE
  5. FOLLOW YOUR HEART
  6. INTERNATIONALLY UNKNOWN
  7. SO WHAT
  8. NO PEACE NO JUSTICE (ft. Tim Timebomb)
  9. FLIES
  10. NIGHT CREATURE (ft. Aimee Interrupter)
  11. DAD’S CRASHED CAR
  12. SILVERLAKE

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