- LP + 7"
Babydoll is the fifth Rat Columns album and, following 2021’s Pacific Kiss, the second to be released on Tough Love. The recordings took place in Perth, Western Australia, partially by engineer Jason Hayles in a 1960’s office building that formerly housed the secretarial pool of a successful mattress company, and partially by DW in an industrial unit, and feature the ensemble cast of Taylah McLean, Chris Grunwaldt, Scott Payne, Richard Ingham, Cohen Bourgault and, of course, DW himself. It was then mixed and mastered in Melbourne by Mikey Young and Joseph Carra, respectively. Babydoll seems to mark a return to a murkier, dirgier Rat Columns format. Distortion is fetishized again and many small amplifiers were tortured in the album’s production. Tempos have drifted down and the lyrical concerns move ever inward, in an inverse bloom. The mood is dour, introspective, circular, the songs long, and short attention spans are neglected. ‘Cerulean Blue’ churns through a crystalline memoryscape, homaging low-brow grunge auto-fiction and a partial history of mid-period rave. ‘Life In The Jungle’ is a fever dream of imperialist wartime fantasy projection. ‘Heavenly Assault’ attempts a crushing density amid visions of transcendent devotion. ‘Virtual Sweden’ takes us ever northwards into the frosted tip of Scandinavian détente. ‘Babydoll’, like ‘Cerulean Blue’, homages a primarily imagined low-cosmopolitan world of alt-lit digi-poets, bedroom fantasists, underwater prisons for gorgeous, gorgeous girls. ‘Bees Make Honey’ lets more sophisticated music machines into the conversation and marks the first use of vocal tuning software on a Rat Columns album, albeit in an avant-amateurist fashion. ‘Jane, I Live For You’ enters the space-ballad race, dreaming of synthetic folk-rockers, leaning on sampler keybeds in the half-light. ‘December’ is yet another tribute to fallen Stars, mansions on the hill, winter skin in cashmere sweaters, truth in education, love, faith, (im)purity. In all these respects, it is a classic Rat Columns record. Because all Rat Columns records are classic records.
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