Sacramento was positively drenched with rain last weekend. The meteorologists called it an “atmospheric river;” I called it a great time to wallow in some seriously depressing music to match the shitty weather. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better band in 2015 to accompany overcast skies and sheets of (probably toxic) precipitation than Australia’s Weeping Rat. The band is set to drop their debut album Tar via the mighty Handmade Birds, and it’s a deliciously dismal listen, to say the very least.
Weeping Rat’s sound is firmly grounded in the gothic rock and post punk of the late seventies and early eighties, often coming across like a ‘luded out Joy Division due to their sluggish tempos and Jacob Rolfe’s lethargic, Ian Curtis-esque vocal approach. That said, they’re far more than a mere JD clone, incorporating elements of industrial, synthpop and death rock into their sound. Essentially, Weeping Rat is a glorious mash-up of all the best parts of rock and electronic music at their dreariest.
What’s really great about the band though is their ability to get this sullen stuff to stick in your head. Take opening track “Silk in the Water,” for instance; the phrase “I can’t feel my legs” probably isn’t most people’s idea of a memorable refrain, but good luck with not being compelled to sing it aloud at random intervals once you’ve heard it a time or two. Every track on Tar has something to hook you, whether it’s a catchy refrain, a danceable beat or a wonderfully morose melody, it’s evident that Weeping Rat have spent a great deal of time on these compositions, crafting odes to melancholy that are as indelible as they are miserable.
Production-wise, Tar possesses a dark and gritty sound, not quite recorded-on-a-four-track-in-a-garage lo-fi, but more like it was recorded using outmoded studio technology dating back to 1982 or so. For other genres this might be construed as an attempt at being shamelessly retro, but for gothic rock sounding dated is no bad thing in this reviewer’s opinion; Weeping Rat sounds completely, gloriously authentic, whereas other bands attempting this style with a slicker, more modern approach come off as unbearably cheesy.
Indeed, Weeping Rat are easily the most legit goth/death rock/whatever-you-want-to-call-it band to come along in ages, as well as one of 2015’s early highlights and yet another home run for Handmade Birds. If you’re down with this shiznit, you owe it to yourself to check out Tar ASAP, and if you’re not down with it, now’s the fucking time to either get down or lose forever.