Album Review: Rat The Magnificent – The Body As Pleasure

What had I heard of Rat The Magnificent before my music editor knowingly threw this record my way? Nothing. What do I love about this noise-rock debut LP from the band? Everything! It’s as simple as that, but somehow I have to try and put it into words. I’m not sure how I’d not yet crossed paths with this London “wine-based power trio” who sound right up my street, and was massively intrigued when I found out that the new album also features a bunch of excellent guest artists such as: Ian Catskilkin (Future Of The Left, Art Brut), Jen Macro (MBV, Graham Coxon), Charlotte Hatherly, Stephen Gilchrist (Graham Coxon, The Damned, The Cardiacs, Vic and Bob), Jeff Fairley (Cheel Ghar) and Caroline Gilchrist (Hot Sauce Pony), I was buzzing for a taste of it!

The hairs on the back of my neck literally stood up as I played the first track “In The Middle”, and remained up long after the album finished. It has been on repeat for days and I literally cannot bring myself to listen to anything else right now. A distorted, ominous bass rhythm kicks off the album and remains prominent throughout, superbly delivered by Ross Davies. Perry Anderson’s punk vocals are angsty and beguiling in this opener that builds layer upon layer of fuzzy guitar flares, depraved drumming (Anna Dodridge) and increasingly agitated screams.

Mouth wide open and after several replays, I push myself on to “Marrtalon”. There’s that bass again, doomy and seductive alongside Anderson’s alluring drawls which drag you in. Shut your eyes and you’re there in a dingy underground club, rubbing flesh and sweat with those alongside you, fighting for air and desperate for someone to throw that glass of (hopefully) water over your heads. Stunningly produced the sound is as raw and (I imagine) as near to the live experience as you can get.

“Up The Street” has a sludgy blues-rock feel to it, full of swagger and filthy, groove laden riffs that ensure you don’t sit still. Whereas, angsty “Where You Been” makes the guts twist as Anderson’s tortured vocals become more guttural as this post-punk track plays out against anxious scuzzy guitars and afflictive drumming. A highly emotive track that I adore, even if I almost feel awkward for listening to it.

Just when you think you’re settling into the vibe of the album, it takes a massive twist and this becomes a record of two halves. “The For” commences with eerie synth waves, much slower paced and Anderson’s haunting vocals are hypnotic, it’s a divine come down. This leading astutely into “The Parlour”, tranquillising the soul, psychedelic and experimental soundscapes are simply breathtaking.

“Olon” trips along the same vibe with a heavier influence from the distorted guitar sounds and unbounded cymbals, Anderson’s punk squalls at the fore. Succinct “Ilsflat” is dark and brooding, layered vocals balancing the sensual, edgy sound coming to a beautiful climax. “The Inevitable” sees a switch to female vocals, daydreamy they blend with the bleeding guitars, and trance rhythms. Closer “Panarron” sees a stripped back piano and whispered vocal incantations buried by an overwhelming crackling sound effect, like the whole record is slowly burning away to nothing. A poetic ending to a stunning album.

A stupendous debut, Rat The Magnificent are firmly on my radar, make sure they’re on yours too.

The Body As Pleasure is out now

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