February 21, 2022 Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – Sticky (Album Review)
When we last heard from Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, in another lifetime known as 2019, they had found enlightenment and were approaching nirvana with the End of Suffering. Unfortunately, life as we once knew it took a dramatic turn and the global situation has become a whole lot more, well, Sticky. Henceforth the title of their latest, which arrived in October 2021 via International Death Cult/Kobalt.
The raucous Rock-n-Roll duo of Vocalist Carter and Guitarist Dean Richardson, the sole “Rattlesnake,” amounts to two Brits with plenty of Punk attitude. Amalgamating a million genres to create whatever they please, thankyouverymuch, the pair has built a name for themselves thanks to insane live shows along with a trio of full-lengths, which includes 2015’s Blossom and 2016’s Modern Ruin.
If you know anything about this pair of musicians, the 10-song Sticky, produced by Richardson, is no shock; its mess of chaotic soul-searching that delivers max blunt force emotion is par for the course. Not unlike its predecessor, the collection offers listeners a heartfelt journey through Carter’s psyche as he grapples with a myriad of issues stemming from the pandemic, along with unrequited love, drugs and excess, and, perhaps most surprisingly, the patriarchy.
Despite its weighty subject matter, much of the meat of Sticky is packaged with a frenetic energy that exudes thick Punk influences. We see this immediately as Carter and Richardson kick off their latest with its namesake track, carefully building a sense of frustration and aggression that howls with New Wave influences before self-destructing. Its rabid snarl is immediately contrasted by the soaring vocals of “Cupid’s Arrow,” where not everyone is meant to feel the love. It’s a track that could not be more different from “Sticky,” and yet the juxtaposition of the pair sets the tone for a truly eclectic album.
And Carter and the Rattlesnakes deliver. From the bratty ‘70s Brit Punk of “Bang Bang,” where guest vocalist Lynks gifts us with a Talking Heads’ reminiscent feature, to straightforward rocker “My Town,” featuring Idles’ Joe Talbot, there is no blatant conceptual thread to link these songs, and yet, their candid nature and wild experimentation creates an album that is wholly cohesive. Whether Carter and Richardson are taking everything to excess and rolling in the ooey-gooey (“Take It To The Brink”), attempting to snag a “Cobra Queen,” flirting with the devil and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie (“Original Sin”) or crafting funky earworms they might eventually regret (“Go Get A Tattoo”), they deliver succinct tracks that pack a ferocious punch.
It is loud, and while it might sound like little more than brash, teenage angst, there’s a sophistication to the artful diversity of Sticky that never feels forced. Take, for example, “Off With His Head.” Here, Carter explores the stranglehold that patriarchy maintains on our world as Cassyette kills it on guest vocals. And while it sounds like a dream, lyrically, there’s a weight to these reflections as they exist alongside a perfectly placed feature by a phenomenally strong woman. Similarly, what they learned from the doldrums of the past few years, “Rat Race,” provides a warning that, though imbued with sultry notes and built on a thick bass backbone, is no less urgent in its appeal to reason.
Throughout Sticky, no two songs are ever quite the same nor does Carter waste time ruminating on any particular subject for multiple tracks. Like an overactive mind slamdancing through a pit of disconnected thoughts as we attempt to find a respite, what the singer-songwriter creates is reflective and honest, a soul-searching collection that is as hard to ignore as the tireless grip of insomnia. In short, what Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes provide their listeners is refreshing Rock-n-Roll with intelligence and heart, a sticky sweet necessity for surviving the rat race. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Sticky 4.5 of 5 stars.