CD REVIEW: ‘Printer’s Devil’ by Ratboys

The song “Elvis in the Freezer” by Ratboys seems to follow me around Spotify. Every year, it appears on my most listened to songs. Not because I am actively choosing to listen to it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really good song. It just seems to constantly pop up on variously playlists and what have you, and I never skip it. I’ve heard “Elvis in the Freezer” so many times at this point. However, I had not heard a ton of Ratboys beyond that. That is no longer true, as I have listened to their new album Printer’s Devil.

With a name like Ratboys, I originally felt like odds were good that they were a grimy sort of punk band. That is very much not the case. They have an indie rock sound built around a female vocalist with a higher, softer voice. Screaming Females they are not. Some songs have an edge to them, and they throw some gritty guitar in there, but the music can also be poppy. Yes, even on an album called Printer’s Devil. A printer’s devil, by the way, was an apprentice for printers in the old-timey days of printing. Like, Ben Franklin was a printer’s devil. I don’t know if this has any bearing on the themes of the album, though it is the title of the last song. They also open the album with a song called “Alien with a Sleep Mask On.” It’s a kind of weird album at times.

I would call Printer’s Devil, and I know this isn’t the most-exciting thing to say, a solid indie rock album. It’s always hardest to write about albums that are simply good. I can’t rave about Ratboys’ third full-length release. I also can’t condemn it. I will say that I have nothing bad to say about Printer’s Devil. There aren’t any bad songs. If I listen to the album another time, I won’t be skipping any of the tracks. The thing is, I don’t feel super compelled to really give it another listen. When songs from the album appear in my Spotify Daily Mix or whatever, and I am sure they will, I will be total content with that.

“Alien with a Sleep Mask On” is a rollicking opener with some fun instrumentation. “Clever Hans” is the one that sticks out with me the most. “Anj” seemed to be the second “single,” such as it is, and I thought it was good but not remarkable. The songs on Printer’s Devil are meaty. It’s 39 minutes and only 10 songs. Every song is over three minutes long. They are leaning into the rock a bit, though some of the songs still maintain a delicate frailty to them.

There have been some albums that have wowed me already in 2020. Printer’s Devil by Ratboys isn’t one of them. I like it, but I’m not looking to scream my praise from the rooftops unlike with, say, Honeymoon by Beach Bunny. If you dig indie rock, definitely give it a spin. For me, I accept my future of having Ratboys songs other than “Elvis in the Freezer” popping up in my playlists.

About Chris Morgan

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