Rat Scabies – ‘P.H.D. (Prison, Hospital, Debt)’ (Album Review)
With so many contemporary rock bands lining up to give the sellout gods a rimming, albums like this are a welcome fucking relief. Rat Scabies has been around far longer than the aforementioned, and throughout P.H.D. he makes it clear that he hasn’t lost his connection to the punky vitality that kick-started his career as a member of The Damned.
When people talk about “authenticity” in music, they’re really talking about honesty – and P.H.D. is undeniably honest. Rat Scabies is capable of immense musical versatility, and demonstrates that fact throughout this album. From Chew On You (a winning slice of balls-to-the-wall rock ‘n’ roll) to punky instrumental My Wrists Hurt; jazzy rampage Sing Sing Sing; the pure theatricality of Rat’s Opus; and dub excursion Floating, P.H.D. consistently throws a series of curveballs at the listener.
Fans of The Damned will doubtless be prepared for such an eventuality, and are practically guaranteed to love every second. More intriguing tracks follow – and aside from Shivers and Un Nouveau Balai (A New Broom), instrumentals that feel built to support vocal melodies and lack impact as a result, they’re pretty damn good. Dazy Bones digs into a classic punk vibe; Benni’s Song, Glad You Could Make It, and Feels Like A Sunday are great slide-guitar-centric chillers; and Floydian Slip steals the show with a punning title and appropriately expansive atmospherics.
No matter which style Rat Scabies turns his hand to, it quickly becomes clear that he owns that space. Punk, dub, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and so on are as much a part of Rat Scabies as his limbs and brain. There’s no boundary between this guy and the music he plays. They both form part of the same whole.
In short, Rat Scabies is an exceptional musician – and P.H.D. is a truly great album.
LTK RATING: 90% (Essential Listening!)
P.H.D. drops May 18; pre-order it on iTunes.
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