From the packaging (it is hundreds of RAB related puns based on other band names; to give you a taster – Rabiohazrd, RABHotChilliPeppers and Rabiohead – or their YouTube channel being called Al JazeeRAB); to the name of this band (RAB stands for “Rien A Branler”, or I don’t give a shit in English) to the song titles (“70 Virgin Girls” anyone) it is clear that this is not a band who take themselves too seriously. RAB are a French based band but unusually sing all their songs in English and to be honest if I hadn’t told you they were French you would not have known. Musically they are very American and remind me of bands like Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age.
The album starts with “First Mate” and a cacophony of feedback and white noise which soon makes way for a cool and funky riff which instantly makes you think of 60’s and 70’s blue bands like Cream. I would call this opening track stoner rock but it is also slightly psychedelic with a very strong rock sensibility; especially in the vocals. Very catchy opener, great use of riffs and the drums stand out giving it that 60‘s feel.
Second track “70 Virgin Girls” has a more of a garage sound to the guitars, but still very much with the psych riffs, and upbeat tempo. Loved the use of backing vocals on this track, not harmonies more punk double layering giving it both more power and that were all in this together vibe. Love the guitar solo towards the ends of this song. What RAB manage to do is reinvent an old format and make it fun. Lyrically, and title wise I feel they are a bit tongue in cheek. Like anything with this type of title you are going to wonder what it is all about. There’s nothing in the lyrics of either this or the next song “Gay Killer” is sinister, it all instead seems to be in the vein of a band like Electric Six, covering topics just off the top of their heads and what they find fun.
In “Gay Killer” itself they say that “I live my life as a Liar and I cross my enemies” and later the main chorus “I am waiting for the right time your blood, just like a red wine. I can’t wait to bleed it out, bleeding from your veins”. Musically it has a Black Sabbath style guitar opening, (which to be honest you can never go wrong with) and this heavy riff is repeated through the song. This song also contains some great backing vocals as well lots of oohs that suit the song well. This really is a fun band that has a lot to offer. So sound wise it might be familiar but it is presented with such passion and a beat throughout which is so contagious and danceable. They also use plenty of experimentation within each track, such as solo vocals where all other instrumentation drops out followed by group chants. Musically very catchy.
“Feel Good” is another stand out track on the album, right from the beginning of its opening riff. This is something that RAB are very good at. They have a way of turning a simple riff and turning it into something that is contagious in its danceability and basing the whole song around this. This song is actually very simple in its structure (chorus is an upbeat “I Feel Good”) and its rhythms which mirror the choppiness of the chord changes and the pace of the vocals very well. RAB may not be reinventing the genre of rock but what they do they do very, very well, never missing the opportunity to take the song up to an extra level of excitement and dynamics if they get the chance.
“The Genius of the Crowd” appears to a pivotal point of the album where we start to get a variety of styles and some of the punk upbeat makes way for some tracks more metal and darker also. It begins with a spoken word call “Beware of the Preachers, beware of the dollars” which is reminiscent of Suicidal Tendencies’ “Send Me Your Money”. This is accompanied by a slow rhythm and squealing guitar to build the tension in the background. It also reminds me of something like Death in Vegas, very post rock, with the continuous preaching over top. As the song progresses this tension continues to build as does the preaching, excellently done.
“Pitiful Liars” continues the darker theme and musically it has a more aggressive feel to the song. This song is actually more metal than rock of the previous tracks and shows a more mature side to RAB that balances out the album well. The final song of the album “My Own Grave” was also the band’s first video offering and it brings together a lot of the elements of the band together in one song. It is slightly darker than the opening part of the album, but it has 70’s punk aspect to the stop/start rhythm and chanted vocals. RAB do seem incapable of writing a song that isn’t singalong, so it has that danceability aspect to it as well. Great song to finish the album on .
RAB have basically taken the sensibilities, styles, themes and fun of 70’s rock and reinvented it. Not in the more ironic style of say someone like the Darkness; instead they manage to create a genuinely warm and feel good album whilst also showing a playing versatility and talent to embrace a good tune that actually makes you smile. It really would fit comfortably into any of the decades since. RAB may not take themselves too seriously but with an album packed full of good old fashioned rock and roll you can dance too it would be hard to take yourself too seriously either.
RAB2 is out now