I went into this review not knowing a huge amount about the Tarot Rats. I’d been forwarded a few of their videos in advance of the EP, so I was rather excited about it. However, I was asked by a few friends to describe them…and I couldn’t. Tarot Rats seem to be one of those bands that, quite simply, defy description.
This becomes even more evident upon listening to this EP. Just when you think you’ve uncovered one influence, another one rears its head. And it’s a rather diverse array of influences as well – both genre and individual artist.
The opening song, “War Begins In The Minds Of Men”, is a good case in point here – there’s a definite hint of Muse around this song. And while I’m not the world’s biggest Muse fan, I can appreciate that they make pretty damn good music. Judging by the sense of purpose that you get from the start of this song, with the thudding bass, Tarot Rats are equally capable of making damn good music as well.
The second song on the EP, “When We Were Young”, has a much funkier feel to it and feels closer to a Bowie-style song, which can only ever be a good thing. There’s also a slight hint of the Killers here, but not in a “similar to their song of the same name” vibe. More in an upbeat, fun kind of vibe that you got from early Killers songs.
“Hanged Man” takes us on a deeper, more melancholic journey. It also contains some of the best guitar work on the EP. It definitely feels like more of a story-style song than the opening two, and brings to mind echoes of how the likes of Iron Maiden can tell a story in a fairly short song.
“Business As Usual” is anything but. Compared to the pretty much “in your face” nature of the opening couple of tracks (and I’d even include Hanged Man in there), this is a fairly stripped back, borderline 1930s jazz style number. It’s the sort of song that, quite honestly, you could hear Nina Simone singing. In fact, if you listen to Feeling Good straight afterwards, you may struggle to tell the difference in the styles.
This is testament to just how good a voice Tim (Steel) Hill has. It’s pretty astonishing that it’s the same person singing all five of these songs. You almost expect the style of music to change slightly as you journey through an EP or a full album, but for a singer’s voice to change so much is remarkable.
“Plastic Rose”, the closing track on the album, seems to meld together all the previous tracks on the EP, in the perfect closer. With an EP this short, it’s pretty important that the closing track leaves you wanting more. And that’s certainly the case here.
This is a very promising EP from a very promising band. Considering all these songs were recorded live at various Tarot Rats’ gigs, this isn’t a band short on confidence. They’ve another EP lined up and ready to record, with an album due out late in 2018. That can’t come around soon enough.
Now to tweet them incessantly until they come to Belfast…