Album review: Reject by A Rat Problem

A Rat Problem’s most recent eclectic release varies both in style and in quality

Nothing opens with the haunting melody of a piano being played down pitched and backwards soon ushering in the low rumble of a crunchy sub bass paired with Jackson Adrian’s, the man behind A Rat Problem’s monotone vocal utterances. The track plods and progresses at a lethargic pace with the occasional rat-a-tat snare fill made possible by a pre-packaged off the shelf drum machine.

The blasé attitude A Rat Problem takes with his spoken word delivery paired with the sluggish instrumental is emblematic of the lyrical content he espouses on the track. Thematically the song is equal parts lethargic indulgence, “I’m going to do nothing today” and the mournful pondering of loss, “I don’t know why you went away.”

The opener is a definitive middle ground in terms of the quality of music on the EP.

The second track, Polygraph is bogged down in a cacophony of poor mixing and comes off amateurish. Adrian brings forward a barrage of overcompressed electropoppy cascades of arpeggiated synthesizer and organ that come off as unintentionally abrasive.

ive been late w/ Scribbles is a lacklustre segue that bridges Adrian’s vocal performances with the jazzy low fidelity beats that characterize the remainder of the release.

The best capitalization of this jazz-laden hip-hop blend is the following instrumental track, Colours. While this is the shortest track on the EP, less than two minutes long, it’s the most authentic song we hear.

The composition consists of gentle guitar noodling and piano chords. This style of hip-hop is oversaturated in the modern music scene but Adrian captures the sentimentality of ambivalent longing and second-rate melancholy that characterizes the genre aptly with this song. The drums naturally fit into the mix more here than on any other track, resulting in a song that presents serenity and sincerity, nearly feeling out of place with the electronic experimentation that dominates the rest of the release.

Everything, the closing track contrasts the opener, Nothing in name and in style. It’s a marriage between the instrumental jazz-influenced preceding tracks with the spirit and emboldened attitude of Polygraph resulting in an upbeat and relatively quick paced song primarily driven by the chopped and screwed lead vocal sample. The piano riff in this song is the same one first used on Nothing, au natural. Whether intended or not, this track embodies the ethos of the entire EP. Left field experimentation while embracing the conventional standards of sub-mainstream appeal.

While it’s evident that Adrian dons the bedroom producer aesthetic, he manages to use it to his advantage on this release. Mostly.

7.4/10 – Finding a great shirt at the second-hand store