If you’ve ever wondered what the perfect amalgamation of heavy metal, Irish folk music and Gas Cuntism would look and sound like, look no further than The Scratch. With that said, a more accurate description of the band would be that one quick-witted mate of yours who has whopper taste in tunes and a bigger goo for a pint of plain who probably slags you off a little bit too much (see PJ) but always has some sage advice to offer.
Cutting their teeth on the Irish festival circuit; The Scratch have always given off the impression that they never took themselves too seriously, but this is really a surface level conclusion to come to. Their first EP ‘Old Songs’ was a consistently strong beginning, while follow-up ‘The Whole Buzz’ was a clearer demonstration of their dedication to their craft and brand identity announcement. Carefree and trashy though they may be in spirit, their ability to lightly tread the line between folksy foot-stomp and heavy metal riffage is expert and unparalleled.
On ‘Couldn’t Give A Rats’, we find the Perrystown foursome at their most refined. There is a feeling that the lads have gotten a little bit more serious in their approach. Lyrically, at least. Excuse is an ode to self-motivation and taking initiative, Session Song laments the hangover blues that follow a weekend binge in a relatable and sobering way and Birdie pays tribute to a close friend.
Don’t let this fool you, however. The band are as funny and quick-witted as ever, the album as chock-full of witty one-liners and quips as anything else the lads have put out to date. Album opener Pull Your Jocks Up, the closest the band have ever come to a straight-ahead rocker, opens with the words “Take a bow / You’re a top class cunt / You add to the kitty of craic”, while those looking for something more along the lines of earlier favourites PJ or Get It Right Up Ye would have their needs placated by the barrage of insults of lead single God Slap (“I don’t like the tone o’ yer voice / Well you can iron me sack if ya want to / Listen here you’re treading on ice / Well what’s a little sap like you gonna do”) Couple those with the addition of an enthusiastic fan’s voicemail and a brief appearance by their touring buddy The Legs
Along the way there are celebrations of Irish culture both popular/contemporary and traditional, as War Of The Buttons recounts all of the best lines from the film of the same name and Seanchaí references the historical storytelling custom. All the while there are some subtle nuances to the folk/metal riffage we have come to expect.
Seanchaí is a bonafide live favourite and departure in mood for the band, with its off-kilter tempo and mantra like vocals, Birdie features some gorgeous female backing vocals on its outro. There are tasteful touches of cello dotted throughout the album, and closing track Underworld is aptly named after the rapid-fire, distorted rant from the creators of the classic floor filler it mimics.
‘Couldn’t Give A Rats’ as a debut album is as good as it gets and captures The Scratch at their best to date. Witty, charming, and masterful in its musical interplay and performance, the band’s growth to this point has been a joy to see and hear and there’s no doubt that the lads will keep the good stuff coming.