Chelmsford musician Rat Boy (a.k.a. Jordan Cardy) was tipped for greatness after the release of his 2017 debut Scum, which drew comparisons to Jamie T. Now, the indie rocker come hip hop artist has released his follow-up Internationally Unknown which takes a distinctly more American pop-punk sound thanks to producer Tim Armstrong of Rancid, a hero of Cardy’s.
Internationally Unknown showcases a great deal of potential for Rat Boy, with its pop-punk influences mixing well with Cardy’s rapping which appears to have improved greatly since his debut both stylistically and lyrically. This is evident on “No Peace No Justice” with its garage style drum beat and almost Green Day-esque breakdown, which is a refreshing changeup from Cardy’s previous work- which had a distinctly British indie rock aesthetic. Nonetheless, Rat Boy does expand on this sound on “Don’t Hesitate” with its catchy hook and danceable guitar licks alongside “Follow Your Heart” which sees Cardy blend hip-hop and brit-pop in what feels like a modern-day take on Parklife era Blur. Opening track “Chip On My Shoulder” is another high point for the album, delivering rapid verses over instrumentals which give a real punk-edge to the track.
Yet, while Internationally Unknown does successfully merge British and American styles on these tracks, the rest of the album feels a little rough around the edges. Internationally Unknown fails where it tries to mix in too many styles, making the record overall a little incohesive. This is most evident on “Night Creature” which attempts a reggae sound and doesn’t quite fit with Rat Boy’s hip-hop vocals and feels out of place on the album. Similarly, on “My Name Is Rat Boy” Cardy’s use of a 90’s rap style instrumental sounds clunky in comparison to his angsty high speed vocals, not to mention the lyrics which read like a teenagers diary. Similarly, “I Wanna Skate” sounds quite juvenile and its repetitive chorus makes the track feel like a bit of an afterthought.
Internationally Unknown fails where it tries to mix in too many styles
Therefore, Internationally Unknown is not necessarily a perfect release for Rat Boy. Its problems with consistency and cohesion take away from an album which does have some exciting tracks on. Cardy’s successful blending of British and American sounds is a refreshing take on 90’s alternative rock with influences from brit-pop to pop-punk. However, where Internationally Unknown falls short is where it tries to do too much instead of building on a style which worked on the album’s better tracks. Nonetheless, if Rat Boy can polish the Anglo-American blend he experimented with on Internationally Unknown then he has the potential for a promising future.