RATCHETS, THE: First Light: LP

Jan 30, 2019

Glory Bound, which came out in 2006, constitutes for a classic album in my collection. On that record The Ratchets, seemingly effortlessly, merged ska, reggae, and anthemic Clash-style punk stuff in a way that was refreshing, political and personal, catchy as living hell, authentic, and demanding of repeated listens. That record rules from start to finish. So expectations were way up there when I heard the band had a new album coming out. With ten originals and a Tom Robinson cover, all of the swagger and requisite parts seem to be in place. Songs like “Jammyland” and “Paterson” show they can still slow things down without losing the thread, and “World Trade Lungs” might be one of the best songs they’ve ever written; it’s certainly the best song on the record. That said, there’s just a little indefinable something missing here. I’ve listened to this thing again and again, trying to latch on to key elements, to get snagged by the hooks, but they’re just not quite as prevalent as earlier efforts. I like First Light. It’s well done, they’ve clearly put a ton of work into it, and it’s got some outstanding moments. But, damn, it’s not feverishly good, and almost all of their stuff is feverishly good, you know? –Keith Rosson (Pirates Press)