by Joe Wasserman (@fluxyjoe)
Julia Steiner’s vocal melodies slink through the eponymous opener like a snake in the grass, just waiting to spit venom with a smile: “You’re a big-hearted liar / And you know what you are.” On “You’ve Changed” she croons a chorus that would be jejune for other artists: “You’ve changed / And it’s so sad. / You’ve changed / And we feel bad.” The lyrics are clear and direct without being simplistic and immature. Each word carries the weight of the story without the distraction of over-explaining. The high-concept storytelling found on GN’s “Crying About the Planets” and “Peter the Wild Boy” blooms more quietly on “After School,” the closer that depicts the awkwardness and uncertainty of young romance when it’s “all knots.”
As always, Dave Sagan’s guitar lines rip. His opening riff in “You’ve Changed” immediately establishes an easiness about the song that is fantastically contrasted with the narrator’s story. The solo in “GL” complements Steiner’s spunky lyrics with a quiet, humble introduction that develops into off-kilter guitar heroics. Without overstaying their welcome, Sagan’s melodies shimmer as wistfully as the narrator of “After School” laments their romantic indecision.
Of the four tracks, “Figure” acts almost as an interlude and feels the most like a B-side off GN. If there were a track to cut from GL, it’d be this one. Nevertheless, with its brevity and bumpy rhythm, “Figure” is masterfully sequenced before the gut-punching “After School” and can be chalked up as just another Ratboys tune for us to enjoy.
Ratboys continue to produce consistently solid music that simultaneously breaks and mends your heart while keeps you wanting more. GL is a fantastic, satisfying appendix to GN that promises the full-length wasn’t a one-off but rather a claim that Ratboys will continue to upkeep.