March 9, 2020

Combining elements of 70’s punk, post-punk and garage rock, Swedish indie-band Rotten Mind are back with their fourth full length album. As one of the four original bands affiliated with Lövely Records, Rotten Mind had released three studio albums; “I’m Alone Even With You” (2015), “Rotten Mind” (2017) and “Fading into Oblivion” (2018), their style evolving from the early, fairly frantic, punk thrash of their debut through into more mainstream indie-rock, and it was this mix that Rotten Mind displayed when doing live performances in Australia, Germany, France, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, UK, USA, Spain and Czech Republic. 

With “Rat City Dog Boy”, Rotten Mind return to their musical roots. There are a few new influences in there, to create an album that sounds mostly vintage 70’s punk that to me will appeal mostly both fresh and vintage, making the band more appealing to old-school punks than to broader indie-rock fans. The band say that their latest release flirts heavily with influences from post rock and goth, but to me “Rat City Dog Boy” basically takes Rotten Mind back to their musical roots, making more space for thrashing guitar chords, fast 4/4 drum beats and ranting vocals. It does maintain the melancholic sound recognisable to fans, but I don’t believe it meets their claim that it can be described as a well balanced mix between their frantic debut and their latest release. 

Consisting of Jakob Arvidsson (guitar/ vocals), Rune Strömbom (bass), Johan Sverredal (guitar) and Victor Nordin (drums), Rotten Mind was formed in Uppsala, Sweden in 2015.

Rat City Dog Boy consists of 11 punk / post-punk tracks pierced by the band’s trademark songwriting style and sense for melodies, existing somewhere in the dark wastelands between 70’s UK acts like The Vibrators and US bands such as Christian Death and T.S.O.L. They’re also comparable with contemporary Scandanavian acts such as Crusades, Iceage, Radioactivity, Metz and High Tension Wires. 

As the title implies, the gloomy yet energetic atmosphere on Rat City Dog Boy is influenced by life in the city. Jakob explains: “We practically live on the streets, in the bars and in our rehearsal room in Uppsala; the dark and twisted city with a long history of rock music and especially punk. For us, taking inspiration from the nights in Uppsala and putting it on tape was an essential part of writing this album.” 

For me though, here’s the rub: the individual tracks aren’t bad at all, and quite entertaining. But I have to say that as an album its all a bit “samey”. Maybe we in the UK have simply heard a lot more punk than most, but this album could have be made by any one of hundreds of bands around in the UK in the 70’s, some of the more obvious examples being the Adverts, the Undertones, the Skids, Gang of Four, Rezillos….. and then from later times Canadian band Our Lady Peace. The last track on the album has echoes of a pared down version of “That’s Entertainment” by the Jam, sounding genuinely like a garage, as per the video above 🙂

I suppose the point is that if you’re searching for something new, you won’t find it here, If however you’re looking for more of a style that you’re familiar with and want to hear more, its all decent stuff – it just doesn’t push any boundaries (no matter how dark and twisted Uppsala might be!)