Rat Columns - Candle Power

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:7 Release Date:2017-03-10

Rat Columns. Judging by the name of the band, maybe you would be attracted to take a listen if you were a fan of death metal, or any other form of metal, or maybe hardcore punk. Take a look at the cover, and things might not look that straightforward - some undefined yellow flower above a murky picture of a river valley of sorts. Start playing “Candle Power”, the band's second album, and things get even more complicated.

Actually, by some standards, they get quite simple because David West, the band's mastermind, has served us nine variations on pop-rock. Now, that might seem simple in some quarters but is actually extremely hard to achieve, particularly if you try to avoid sticking to one straightforward style and try to inject a personal element into the music.

And West, a native of Perth, Australia, who spends his time between San Francisco and Melbourne, has fared well here. No wonder, because if you look at a number of bands/projects he has or is active in, and the variety of styles he has covered, there is quite a base for him to make quite a peach of a pop record.

As he stated in an interview, for this album he was somewhat inspired by the Sarah Records compilations. But he actually goes a step further.

The opener “Someone Else’s Dream” is the track that keeps a bit of a punky urgency, while “She Loves The Rain”, gives a reminder of the earlier stages of that great band from his native Perth, The Triffids. “Blinded By The Shadow”, owes more debt to the Human League circa “Dare!” and “Time’s No Vessel” is all “Felt”, filtered through the Sarah Records feel West mentions himself.

So basically you get the drift - West and his Rat Columns are filtering through all the pop the Eighties gave us trying to sift out a gem or two. He even does a Northern Soul via Eighties with a song named - “Northern Soul”. “You Don’t Have To Try” could have sat nicely on any of the Style Council albums, while the closer “Dream Tonight” is more or less the approximation of New Order’s “Power, Corruption & Lies” style. While explained and not heard this might sound like a stylistic hodgepodge, West does wrap it all with a personal element that gives quite a unified sound.

Where West’s Sarah Records connection shows up the most is a kind of a post-teenage sadness feel he has given his lyrics here. Besides the general Eighties feel, that has also given the whole album a certain sense of cohesiveness, it lifts “Candle Power” above a mere style tribute. Worth your while, unless, of course, you don’t like anything connected with the Eighties.

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