Everyone needs some pirate music in their lives once in a while. Next time you find yourself itching to put on an eyepatch and a peg leg before you jam on your morning commute, you might consider the Hungarian Celtic punk band Paddy and the Rats as your soundtrack. Founded by Paddy O’Reilly (whose name I can’t imagine has anything to do with the band’s name, of course), Paddy and the Rats has mopped the galleon floor with some of its competitors; topping the Hungarian charts on iTunes in 2010 with their debut album, “Rats on Board”. They’re described as “pub music”, which can definitely be taken in the swashbuckling sense with a yo-ho-ho and a Celtic knot in addition to the standard casket of rum. The band has previously released five full albums.
This week Paddy and the Rats are set to release their sixth studio album, “From Wasteland to Wonderland.” The band pre-released the song “After the Rain”, a deeply sentimental ballad in memory of their accordion player, Bernie Bellamy, who passed away shortly before the planned release date of the album. I’m not usually the biggest fan of slower Celtic ballads, but “After the Rain” is quite good; you can definitely hear the heart that the band poured into it, both lyrically and aesthetically.
Most of the other songs on the album are more upbeat, featuring a cornucopia of simple, catchy tunes. While it’s on the longer side (at 13 tracks), Paddy and the Rats skillfully avoid Davy Jones’ lure of writing the same song over and over: The diversity in aesthetic colour winds the sails of thematic consistency throughout the album. You can definitely hear the Green Day influence too, particularly in the melodic and textural simplicity, though Paddy O’Reilly’s vocals are stylistically very different from Billie Joe Armstrong’s.
The Green Day influence carries over to lyrical content in the album, too: While the music is definitely the sort of thing one could toast several flagons of ale to, if you actually sit down with the lyrics there’s some depth there as well, and certainly on the darker side. Take, for example, the opening track (“Wasteland”), where the protagonist sees himself turn into a treacherous villain (though it also draws – too directly, for my taste – from Christianity for metaphor).
But the album certainly isn’t all doom, gloom, and emotional grog. The third track, “Party Like a Pirate”, provides a stark contrast to the more serious tone of the first two songs, and reminds me a little of Alestorm’s “Pirate Metal Drinking Crew.” It’s a catchy enough song that I only had to listen to it once for it to start randomly playing in my head the next day – despite it being the shortest on the album.
Honestly though, I wish it hadn’t been the shortest one: my most common criticism of good timey drinking music reinstates its status here when I say that some of these numbers just, “finish too long after the end” (in the words of Igor Stravinsky).
The album concludes with “Wonderland” – and I have to respect the accuracy of the album title, given the names of the first track and the final track. The song itself, however, was my least favourite on the album: It’s acoustic, despite which I really tried to like it, but alongside the track “Hometown Kid” earlier in the album, it has an almost country-esque twist – and kind of reminded me of a praise and worship song from a Christian service. No judgment if that’s your thing, but it sure ain’t mine.
Overall, though, it’s a compellingly swashbuckling, toe-tapping album. So next time you feel like grabbing some mead with a mate or two, keep “From Wasteland to Wonderland” on the musical menu!
Release Date: 29 April 2022
Record label: Napalm Records
- Ship Will Sail
- Party Like a Pirate
- After the Rain
- Northern Lights
- Standing in the Storm
- Everybody Get Up
- Hometown Kid
- Rumble Outta Here
- The Last Hunt