Rat Riot – Barbie Apocalypse

Rat Riot! has released a new E.P. this month and I’m here to say that, while I hadn’t heard anything about them that inspired me to finally explore the work of this enigmatic band, they’re probably onto something here and they’re probably going to do it well. As a self-described idealist act, Rat Riot! can alienate through their message and affectation. ‘Getting yelled at by teenage girls’ isn’t a popular entry on profile ‘interests.’ I had heard they were just keyboards and shouting. I had heard that they were really great. It seems that, at different points in their development thus far, Rat Riot! have morphed and experimented. Now they employ keys, bass, and drums to propel a message that includes statements about feminism and the feminine ideal. I’d say it falls somewhere between Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged on the ‘write it on the sky in gossamer tears!’ soap box scale; they aren’t so heavy handed as to alienate but nor are they deft enough to change many minds.

The bass riffs are creative and sound good, the keys lend most all the vibe to the ‘horror-punk witch music’ thing, and the drums are punchy and present. The vocals, as an instrument, are a bit too present a lot of the time. It’s not so much that they’re too loud, they just have a tone that sits all over the top of the mix. For their lyrical style, it makes sense, as they are a very ideal-driven band and the message is loud and clear. While every song but one is between 2:30 and 2:36 in length, an impressive bit of playlisting, they don’t come across as formulaic or churned out. The instrumental sections string together nicely and the musical ideas are strong. If anything comes across as unfinished it is probably the drums, as the wandering tempo and occasionally unsure transitions detract from their impact, though they are otherwise well-constructed. If you don’t believe me, check out Barbie Apocalypse for yourself. It’s like when you first heard Black Sails In The Sunset and realized that rough-edged music can have really sound musical ideas, and it’s a good thing.