At times, Internationally Unknown gives the impression that Rat Boy – Jordan Cardy and co – mistook recreating his early success with recreating his early music. If you liked oldies like ‘move’ or ‘fake ID’, then there’s plenty to enjoy here, even if there really isn’t a massive development in sound. At other times, Rat Boy offers something thrilling – weaving between electrifying punk revival and post-reggae. No one can accuse Rat Boy of trying to imitate any one artist’s sound, for sure.
‘My Name is Rat Boy’ and ‘Night Creatures’ are two of the strongest offerings on the album, both of which heavily draw on reggae inspiration – the latter sticking close to genre and the former dubbing an assault of rap.
The caveat to Cardy’s work is how ‘edgy’ he attempts to be at every turn, resulting in what is sometimes a cringeworthy experience. Retained from his earlier discography, songs focus on living on the estate or having no ‘street cred’ (his words), and almost every track mentions running from police at some point. ‘Don’t Hesitate’ chants ‘Educated from the school of hard knocks//snitches get stitches when you come from my block’, and the very next track is called ‘I wanna skate’. Musically, however, both songs are solid additions and ‘Don’t Hesitate’ holding the catchiest hook. A few tracks do slip through the gaps; ‘Flies’, ‘Dad’s Crashed Car’ and ‘So What’ don’t feel like filler but yet are unremarkable and instantly forgettable.
Following on from the 2018 mini-album Civil Disorder, which was brilliant and innovative, it is a shame that Rat Boy’s newest effort has fallen short. It is inspired, but lacking in execution a little. What results is a compilation of two-minute punches that are fun to listen to, but far from life-changing.