Nostalgic, but classic. Timeless, and also modern
Lina Molloholli
11:53 12th October 2021

With three long-plays already under their belt and only two years since 2019’s highly-acclaimed End of Suffering was released, it would be easy to think that Britain’s timeless punk duo Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes had reached their peak. With four untamed bold singles ('My Town', 'Sticky', 'Go Get A Tattoo', 'Off with His Head') already released, the teasers are here to defy everyone’s assumptions and simultaneously hint towards a more mature-driven work.

Sticky, their fourth album produced for the first time by guitarist Dean Richardson, clearly marks the next phase for the Rattlesnakes and further departs the duo from the band’s previous work. Alongside "underdogs and outsiders" Bobby Gillespie, Joe Talbot (IDLES), Lynks and Cassyette, the 30-minute long play couldn’t possibly feel more topical and relevant, as it sets for a sweet and short thrill ride of an escape from the current post-pandemic fiasco.

But let’s set the record straight: “it’s not a lockdown record, it’s a freedom record”. Energising opener title track ‘Sticky’ evidently provides a flavoursome taste of what the rest of the album’s tone will be. The urgent and impassioned single is a snarling call to arms, in which Carter roams a city at night looking for a sticky situation over distorted bass lines and heavy guitar riffs.

And it wouldn’t truly be a Carter/Richardson project without finding Carter rioting over the abject disgust he has for politicians on rowdy anthem for the socially-disenfranchised ‘Rat Race’. It's a classic Rattlesnakes topic further explored alongside electro-punk sensation Lynks on the riotous ‘Bang Bang’: “Drugs are bad. But when the whole world is burning, all your friends are dying, you work a job you hate, in a country run by white privileged cunts who are happier to watch their friends get richer than flatten a curve, maybe rotting your brain is excusable. At least for the summer.”

And then there is the recurring theme of modern love in its most intimate form which as usual never runs quite smoothly. ‘Cobra Queen’ is about the life-affirming rush of finding a soul mate, with Carter noting over signature thick guitar strings and glitchy bass lines “When the universe sets this up for you, try your best not to fuck it up”. It all ties up perfectly with the minefield of modern dating that he further explores in ‘Cupid’s Arrow’, a picturesque lyrical tale of social media-induced IRL anxiety that overlies a nostalgic tone and atmospheric groovy pop synths.

Perhaps the most personal track of all is third single ‘Go Get A Tattoo’. Its woozy bass, wailing synths and buoyant sound make this a peacefully chaotic soundtrack to Carter’s heartfelt rendering which he describes as his love letter to tattooing and how it’s made me feel over the years.”. 

The albums finishes on a rather gentle note with ‘Original Sin’ finding the duo collaborating with Primal Scream’s frontman Bobby Gillespie. On it, Carter sings about resisting desire until Gillespie’s devious voice arrives, talking about Jesus and lust. The three-minute sonic is an absolute belter that blends rich tranquil synths, heavy guitars and rallying cries that mark as a perfect ending to the album’s riot-heavy path.

From the prominent heavy guitar riffs, roaring belting and untamed lyricism, there’s a sense of personality within this band that’s been kept very prominent throughout, and this album finds them being pioneeringly themselves more than ever before. Although this is not an experiential or avant-garde project, Frank Carter and Dean Richardson trusted their instincts once again and ended up with something far gnarlier than anything they've done before. Sticky proves to the doubters that they are not quite ready to be dethroned yet.

Sticky arrives 15 October via International Death Cult/AWAL.

Photo: Press