SBTRKT’s third studio album ‘The Rat Road’ has been a body of work that has been seven years in the making, the upcoming LP signifies a pivotal period of evolution for the producer. ‘The Rat Road’, marks a significant milestone in the artist’s evolution. After a seven-year gap since his previous release, SBTRKT returns with a record that showcases his revised sonic ambition and creative autonomy. The album’s title, a clever play on “the rat race,” reflects SBTRKT’s personal experiences within the music industry and the broader sense of exhaustion and division prevalent in society.
‘The Rat Road’ takes these frustrations and underpins them with optimism. It’s a sonic ride reflecting on the societal changes in the six years SBTRKT has been creating it, and also a personal reflection of the journey through his life. The project is tightly melodic, luxuriously layered, and instantly memorable without being cheaply infectious; it’s gratifyingly hard to categorise, flitting between tempos with ease, sometimes within the same song.
The lead single, ‘Waiting’ featuring Teezo Touchdown, offers a glimpse into the musical landscape of ‘The Rat Road’. The track is a beautifully arranged piece, characterized by its stripped-back production, ethereal synths, and haunting reverb. Teezo Touchdown’s vocals seamlessly intertwine with SBTRKT’s melancholic chords, culminating in a crescendo of mesmerising drum patterns and shimmering keys. This collaboration, born out of serendipity and shared experiences, perfectly captures the emotional depth and introspection present throughout the album.
SBTRKT’s signature sound, which defies genre boundaries and pushes the boundaries of popular music, continues to shine on ‘The Rat Road’. An artist revered for his prolific collaborations, SBTRKT has worked with an impressive roster of musicians in the past, and this album is no exception. While details about other featured artists are yet to be revealed, the album promises to bring together diverse talents that will further enrich its sonic landscape.
One of the album’s highlights is the previously released track, ‘FORWARD’ featuring LEILAH. This song, initially previewed in the video for Drake and 21 Savage’s ‘Jimmy Cooks’ music video, showcases SBTRKT’s ability to craft captivating and forward-thinking compositions. With its infectious rhythm, soulful vocals, and intricate production, ‘FORWARD’ exemplifies the artist’s mastery of blending disparate elements into a cohesive and innovative whole. This is collaboration at its peak.
Throughout ‘The Rat Road’, SBTRKT demonstrates a purposefully wider and more layered sound compared to his previous works. It is evident that he has meticulously played, recorded, produced, and mixed each instrument on this album, allowing for a truly personal and immersive musical experience. The album serves as a testament to SBTRKT’s dedication to following his own musical path, uninfluenced by external expectations.
As a whole, ‘The Rat Road’ promises to be another daring chapter in SBTRKT’s artistic journey. With his ability to merge genres, push boundaries, and create tracks that resonate deeply with listeners, SBTRKT continues to define a generation, this album serves as a reminder of his innovative spirit and unwavering commitment to crafting groundbreaking music.
‘The Rat Road’ is a testament to SBTRKT’s artistic growth and perseverance. It’s an album that invites listeners on a captivating sonic journey, where determination meets hopelessness and introspection merges with the wider social context. SBTRKT’s return is a cause for celebration, and this album will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the music scene. Notable collaborations worth checking out on the album are with the ever mind-blowing Sampha, legendary D Double E and Little Dragon.
When producer Aaron Jerome first arrived on the scene, despite his stardom he was relatively anonymous. His identity and intriguing sound sat in the shadows, shrouded in mystery. This record is Jerome stepping out of the shadows, confronting issues and soundscapes he hasn’t yet experimented with. His endless creativity, constant appetite for collaboration and immense live shows is something we’ve missed sorely. He is a vital ingredient to the British music scene, his return is wholeheartedly welcomed.
Words: Josh Crowe