Album review: From Wasteland to Wonderland – Paddy and the Rats
The Hungarian folk-punkers in Paddy and the Rats are back with another album, their sixth in order, following 2017’s Riot City Outlaws. As expected we get some irish folk inspired punk/rock, pirate and sea-fairing themes among other, but we also get to see a more unexpected side of the band and some influences not really heard before.
The album opens with Wasteland, an uptempo song that feels right at home with the band, delivering well written lyrics and well played music. My main concern starting to listening to it though, is that it feels a little bit soft and overproduced, a feeling that is gonna stick with me throughout the album. The following tracks has the nautical themes we have come to expect from the band. Ship Will Sail sounds like it could have been on the soundtrack of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and Party Like a Pirate is really a party song, but strays far from the bands punk-roots into other genres. This stray from the more punky sound continues in Northern Lights which has a weird eurodisco-tone with what sounds way too much like an autotuned chorus. The same goes in parts for the track Rumble Outta Here.
On Everybody Get Up, which isn’t a cover of the boy-band song, but almost has that feeling in the chorus, mixed with verses that feels like I’m thrown back to Sum 41’s All Killer No Filler album in the early 00’s. We get some Spanish influences in Matador which also has some hard rock influences. I’m also a bit skeptical over the lyrics in some songs, perhaps most of all in Hometown Kid. It opens with “When I woke up in the morning, And just watching all the news, Only black life matters now, And Santa’s kissing with a dude”, and then goes on to wonder how we got so far from how things was as a kid, and only wanting a beer in the hometown pub with all the old friends. Wanting to get back to the times when racism and homophobia was more accepted do we? Heartbreaker is not much better lyrically but turns towards some kind of player attitude, “One by one you built my brand”, referring to the girls that are being slept with and then thrown aside. I would be more okay if all this had some kind of sarcastic undertone to it, but I don’t feel that here.
Earlier this year the band sadly lost their accordionist Bernie Bellamy, and there are some songs in the end that you lyrically can sense this loss, and that’s where the song-writing shines the most on the album. Wonderland is a nice slow ending to the album and a good way to go out.
I’m not against bands developing their sound and their style, but in this case I can’t help but feeling that the band has lost connection to the punk-roots that they once had a bit too much. It sounds overproduced and almost autotuned to my ears, and mixes hard-rock and eurodisco into the folk influences in a way that doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m sure that many people will find this record really engaging and awesome, and it will probably appeal to a broader audience than some of the bands previous records, but they kind of lost me in this transition. I miss the rawer feeling of previous albums which leaned more towards punkrock, although the band hasn’t been afraid to mix it up a little bit there as well.
This was a bit of a disappointment for me, although there are some decent tunes on here. But give it a listen yourself and see what you think, and feel free to drop a comment below if you completely disagree (or agree, but the former is more fun) with me.