Thursday, August 30, 2012

Album Review: Rat Columns-Sceptre Hole

Rat Columns' debut album is a difficult one, but not in the standard ways an album is usually viewed as "difficult". It doesn't have an excess amount of noise or purely random moments. Instead, Sceptre Hole twists the core of the band's sound from song to song in such a way that it keeps the listener on their toes as to what the album will come back with next. It's dizzying without being disorienting.

To be fair, I don't think any listener would have expected such a sharp change to occur with Rat Columns. What was a one-man band creating simple, bedroom and indie rock filtered post-punk, has now greatly expanded into an actual three piece band that in turn has greatly expanded the band itself. Gone is the sense of minimalism that shaped the band's 7". Instead, the band crafts a type of noise infused jangle pop that they are able to reform into all kinds of different ways. Compare the jagged-ness, fuzzy, indie rocker "Death is Leaving Me" to the Minks like swirl of "Ashes of a Rose" and it takes a second to realize it's the same band crafting both songs. However, the record never feels like it was just pieced or thrown together. Rather Rat Columns use a sense of darkness to connect everything together into a nice neat package. Haunting instrumentals are used to open and close both sides of the LP, paired along with Gothic cover art and song titles allow for these sensations to creep in slowly. In turn the band is able to create something like the Phil Elvrum channeling "Summer Thighs" and noise rock of "Dying Days" without creating dissonance. The whole album melds together perfectly, despite each song being able to jump out at you when you least expect it.

I'm listening to Sceptre Hole again, like I have intermediately for about the past month. And it seems appropriate that it's take me that long to fully digest this album. It's an album full of so many different varying twists and turns that you find new aspects to a song only after the fourth or more listen. Sceptre Hole is an album that reviles itself slower than you think, but the end result is completely worth it. One of the best growers of the year, in every positive sense imaginable.


Rat Columns' Tumblr
Buy Sceptre Hole here, from Smart Guy Records

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