German party-metalcore (or you might even want to call it trancecore) outfit To The Rats And Wolves are here with their third album, ‘Cheap Love’, following on from 2016’s offering, ‘Dethroned’.
Here we go then… oh, no. On the opener and title-track, we’re already off to a bad start. With a grating screamed vocal and a seedy, aiming-for-the-lowest-common-denominator approach that pervades throughout the album, this has the subtlety of a meteor striking your house. Whinging about not being able to pull in a club, the subject of this song is “too complicated” and “too emancipated.” Not being interested in your advances is “too emancipated”? Heaven forbid someone express basic self-respect. This is crass, guys. Not a good look.
Still, it does get better from there, but very marginally. Stylistically this record borrows heavily from the likes of Don Broco and Issues, and sounds like a budget version of both of those bands. The synth lines feel obnoxious and shoe-horned, and the high-pitched screamed vocals continue to pierce.
‘Therapy’ at least has a decent chorus, but again, there are some woeful lyrics. It’s not that every band should be writing oblique lyrics or using big words all the time; there’s just a horrendous lack of afterthought. Some trashy production techniques often manage to find their way in too, such as everyone’s favourite: the sampled vocals that sound like a chipmunk.
And not only do they virtually steal the title of Taylor Swift‘s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ for, yes, ‘Look What You Made Us Do’, but they go one further by doing a completely pointless and unfunny parody of the original song’s infamous answer phone message. By this point, the album has really outstayed its welcome.
More clichés and clangers frequently appear in both the music and lyrics department, such as “The air we breathe is fuckin’ cocaine” from the bravado-ridden ‘B.I.C.’. ‘Down’ really finishes things off poorly; a half-arsed, pathetic wet cloth of a song that exists for the sake of it, filled with every sappy self-help metaphor that you can think of.
Some songs like ‘All The Things’ and ‘Friendz’ would admittedly sit well in a rock club playlist, but a whole album of this simply doesn’t cut it. Pop music or anything with pop stylings has to be at least fun and charming, but ‘Cheap Love’ is a totally charmless record that massively favours style over substance. A cheap thrill at best.