On May 16, Ratboys opened up their most recent tour at Gypsy House, a DIY venue on the north side of Chicago. Coming out of the bridge of their last song “And,” the crowd could not contain their applause any longer. Frontwoman Julia Steiner had to finish the set over the premature clapping with a contented grin on her face. It was a good way to start a month-long tour. Moreover, it was a good last show to play in your home city before you release an album.
Fast-forward to June 9, when Ratboys is set to release their debut full-length AOID off of Topshelf Records. Along with bandmates David Sagan, Will Lange, and Jordan Parel, Steiner aims to silence all of the haters and accomplish great things in 2015. This album is one of the many things Ratboys will do well this year.
The album opens up with the title track, “AOID,” which is a reversed and chopped segment of “And” that leads into a short, acoustic song. The song’s lyrics bleed into the next track, “Tixis,” establishing the great flow of the album. Transitions like these are what separate this great album from mere compilations of great songs.
With Aoid, Steiner brings folk into the modern age. Throughout the album, Steiner layers soothing vocals over simple chord progressions. The rest of the Ratboys fill out the songs with hints of several other genres. Labeling this album simply as indie-folk wouldn’t do it justice.
One song that is prime example of Ratboys’ versatility is the fourth track, “Charles Bernstein.” The song opens up like a classic, old-school country song. Halfway in, the track transitions into a twinkly bridge. Transitions such as these are what make every song on this album unique.
The album is also not without its catchy hooks. Songs such as “Postman Song” and “Bugs!” contain vocal melodies as catchy as any country-pop song. And though they might have been served well to take a more lo-fi approach to the production of this album, Ratboys should be extremely satisfied with how their songs complement each other so well.
Much like the crowd at Gypsy house on that cool evening in mid-May, you’ll be at least nodding your head in approval before the closing track, “And,” comes to an end. Bringing the album to a full circle, “And” is the closest to a traditional sounding indie song on this album. If you hadn’t had at least the urge to dance up until this point, you will with this song. Ratboys won’t blow anyone away with amazing licks or complicated structures, but their ability to write and execute these songs on this album just might.