It is with thanks to Carl of the excellent Chalkman Video that UK punk rock ‘n’ rollers Yorkshire Rats and their debut album Sea of Souls recently and firmly hit our radar. He gave us the heads up on the Leeds quartet having recently shot a video with the guys, and led us to one of those albums which lights ears initially but equally simmers away in the psyche to emerge as one thrilling riot of temptation.
Yorkshire Rats began in 2004, formed by Don Mercy once of Abrasive Wheels and Billy No Mates. Soon into their aggressive stride the band subsequently released, in the words of their bio, “a rabble-rousing 7” and a hooligan fuelled EP.” 2006 saw the band support to great success Rancid but then go on an extended hiatus. They have now returned fuelled to the top with contagious rock ‘n’ roll tenacity, punk confrontation, and potent lyrical incitements, all found to great effect on debut album Sea of Souls. Consisting of Kurt Alexander, Matt Lee, and Chris Furness alongside Mercy, Yorkshire Rats confront, incite, and thrill across thirteen tracks of bracing punk ‘n’ roll antagonism.
There is an instant stirring up of ears and appetite with album opener Hurry Up and Wait, the rolling heavily jabbing enticement of the drums swift persuasion. Raw guitar caresses need little prompting to add their lures, or the swagger lined bassline which jumps in at the same time. It is a feisty and contagious uniting topped by expressive vocals with a delivery which is part challenge, part invitation. The song is the kind of attention grabber all albums should start with, a song revealing the heart of a band’s sound and encounter’s intent with anthemic guile.
The following Glory Days opens on a juicy stroking of slim but pungent riffs before opening up into a dusty rock stroll still driven by the initial hook lined guitar bait. The track does not quite have the bite of its predecessor but compensates with a catchiness and blaze of sonic enterprise which again has an early appetite fed well before making way for the album’s title track. Sea of Souls shows a whisper of the Californian punk influences which also colour the band’s sound, whilst the track itself gently but firmly embraces ears and thoughts with infectious rock sounds and lyrical suggestiveness.
The pair of Everyday and Mary Comes First offer fresh variety to an already flavoursome encounter, the former infusing a Flogging Molly lilt to its guitar endeavour whilst rhythms cast an anthemic baiting and the latter with a smell of Tom Petty to its riffery, in a striking landscape of emotive contemplation and rock ‘n’ roll contagion. Both songs have feet and emotions fired up, the first especially incendiary with its magnetic mix of flavours and almost predatory hooks, but as great as they are, they find themselves shaded by the Green Day-esque Lawful Civil Rights. Guitars and bass bring even stronger glimpses of the Cali scene whilst spinning their own anthemic and addictive proposal around punchy beats and expressive vocal reflection.
The opening dark and predatory bass resonance bringing Struck Down into view is one of those invitations only the deaf can resist, especially once guitars add their sonic scythes to the portentous air. Erupting in a tempest of rhythmic aggression and hostile attitude driven by belligerent vocals, the track weaves in strains of psychobilly and blues tinting into its punk roar, creating one of the most momentous and memorable exploits upon the album.
The calm and inviting balladry of You Don’t Know Anything entices ears and emotions next before Only the Rich Men stomps and rumbles with its raucously engaging sounds. Each again shows a different colour to the Yorkshire Rats sound, not major side steps but hues which reveal the strong variety to the bands creativity and tone.
No Freedom as the previous song is another rock ‘n’ roll romp, but with more rigour in its energy and infectiousness in its punk devilry. Rhythms brew up an inescapable slavery for feet and emotions whilst riffs and vocals blaze over deviously addictive hooks. Though not quite the final song it still makes for a mighty finale before Sea of Souls closes with a trio of excellent acoustic demos of Mary Comes First, Only the Rich Men, and the title track.
You cannot quite call Yorkshire Rats a new band, even with their prolonged absence, but they take ears with a freshness which makes their debut album play like a starting point for the band. A base for bigger and just as enjoyable things to breed from we suspect.
Sea of Souls is out now via Indelirium Records @ http://indeliriumrecords.com/releases-carousel/idr067-yorkshire-rats-sea-of-souls/ and most online stores.
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