Personnel: David Fagan (vocals, guitar); Arnoud Verheul (guitar); Joris Frowein (drums).
Recording information: LGM Studio, Rotterdam.
Dutch quartet Rats on Rafts abandon any attempt at straight-ahead pop on their highly textural sophomore LP, Tape Hiss. Since making the splash in 2010 with their cover of Dutch new wave group Kiem's mid-'80s hit "The Moneyman," the young Rotterdam-based band have continued to push their lean, post-punk-inspired sound into more experimental territory, first with their sharp 2011 debut The Moon Is Big, and with this second effort. Melodies develop slowly throughout these eight songs and are often totally enveloped in a cacophony of noisy abrasions that transition from one track to the next. Opener "Sleep Little Child" is one of Tape Hiss' more accessible numbers, following a two-chord bass groove through seven-and-a-half minutes of dynamic push and pull. Tracks like "Composition" and "Rat Poison Face" are covered with an icy sheet of guitar and drum clatter that is almost off-putting in its total abandon. When they do allow some extra space to open up, like on the distant droning of "Seaside Tape Hiss" and the hooky standout "Last Day on Earth," it's easy to hear Rats on Rafts' potential as purveyors of jagged noise-pop. ~ Timothy Monger