They were still at high school at the time but ‘The Western Boundary’, Rat Trap’s debut album, sounded remarkably mature for a new outfit. Although classed as an indie-folk record, its highlights were when they edged closer to Pavement’s off-kilter rock than those Belle And Sebastian-esque tendencies. The new record pleasingly follows the alt-rock trajectory and is consequently a much more consistent record than the debut.
The slacker rock comes to the fore for opener ‘Birdhouses’; a song which, though undoubtedly melodic, is somewhat unconventional in structure. One of the most memorable songs is ‘Raindrops’, where the quick-fire vocal delivery is complimented by staccato percussion, strings and trademark off-key guitar work. For ‘Pulling Pulling Pulling’ and ‘Valleys Part II’ the guitars get wilder as the band move into harder territory, making a mockery of those Belle And Sebastian comparisons and even the instrumental ‘Rat Party’ is infectious in an early New Order kind of way. However, the moment which tops the lot is ‘Cities’; a song which grows slowly in stature (both emotionally and musically) until it turns into a lo-fi anthem.
‘Blueprints Of A Paper City’ may have witnessed Rat Trap nailing their colours to the alt-rock mast but how many bands in this genre incorporate a violinist into most of their oeuvre? This Santa Cruz band have excelled again by not only realising what they are best at but also by putting out an album which is cohesive from both a thematic and musical point of view.
Pavement, They Might Be Giants