Hot on the heels of gaining a double over hapless England, Hungary has even more to shout about like the 6th full length studio album from Paddy And The Rats. A pirate party fuelled by heavy doses of Punk, Polka and Irish Folk and a worthy tribute to accordion player Bernie who passed away not long before the release of this album.
It’s hard to begin this review without mentioning the sad loss the band suffered at the beginning of this year when their friend and fellow band mate Bernie Bellamy (Bernát Babicsek) sadly passed away.
“Speaking about the new song, the band says, “this album became very important to us because this is the last thing that Bernie recorded in his life. We’d like to dedicate the first single of the album to Bernie and to express all our emotions through the song we release first. That’s why we’ve chosen After The Rain. It’s a sad song but it also has a fully positive vibe. Sadness and desperation are there through the whole song, but meanwhile, you can feel something powerful when the pipe and the accordion come in at the drop. It conveys the feeling that you have to be strong and you have to move on. The last line in the chorus says: ‘After the rain, sunshine will never be the same’. I think this is the essence of the song. The absence of Bernie will be more endurable with time, but nothing will ever be the same without him.”
An awful thing to happen and we send our love to Bernie’s family and friends.
Bernie’s sad death dominates the album in more ways than one. Beside the tracks written especially for him the themes visited here can also be attributed like the sudden death of a friend,the loss of faith, misery but their are also uplifting songs with more irreverent themes like the obligatory drinking and pirate ones. Their recent albums have seen them a slight shift away from the Celtic-Punk that made them one of the biggest live acts in their home country but on From Wasteland To Wonderland they return fully to form but still manage to squeeze in several unexpected influences and flourishes.
Only a few weeks after bemoaning how long it had been since the Hungarian Celtic-Punk scene reared it’s head both The Scarlet and now Paddy And The Rats land on the pages of London Celtic Punks. Now one of the things that made the scene their so great was the diverse nature of the bands with none of them sounding even remotely alike and all and any variation of Celtic-Punk covered. Formed in Miskolc in the industrial northeast of Hungary in 2008 they have become popular outside Hungary and have toured all over Europe.
For the new album, the band teamed up once again with long time producer Zoli Baker who has done an outstanding job. From Wasteland To Wonderland is exactly that with the opening track titled ‘Wasteland’ right up to the final track ‘Wonderland’. Thirteen songs and forty-five minutes later! The opener was one of the first tracks written for the albium and is classic Rats with Celtic-Punk flavoured with a little Eastern promise alongside hard riffs, playful fiddle solo and catchy melodies. The next couple of songs see them flip into pirate mode with ‘Ship Will Sail’
“To the end of the world I’ll ride
For you, no place to hide
Till’ I hunt you down
Our ship will sail”
“Dressed up for the partyA one-eyed gent of eleganceMy wooden leg is stuck in the lower deckMy freshly polished eye rolled down my neck”
Released as a single with an exciting accompanying video. The band said of the video –
“We shot the video in Tenerife in famous places like the Volcano Teide and the classic pirate village in Maska. The story starts on a pirate ship where a bunch of pirates have a party and bully a witch who curses the pirates to wake up in the present. They try to understand the modern world which leads to very funny situations. The song is a typical Paddy And The Rats party song – causing the urge to dance in everyone who listens to the catchy melody.”
The first single from the album was ‘After The Rain’. It’s a song we featured on release as it was a moving tribute to their friend and comrade Bernie. ‘Northern Lights’ takes in some thrashy Metal along the way adding some Scandinavian touches too by way of the lyrics, like Northern Lights or the girl with the shiny green hair.. Never afraid to try something different ‘Matadora’ sees some Mariachi-style trumpets while the haunting ‘Standing In The Storm’ slows things down. While we expect the unexpected from Paddy And The Rats ‘Everybody Get Up’ was still a bit of a shock with it’s fiddle intro and then straight into some Hip Hop ala Beastie Boys or Run DMC but still with the irreverent lyrics we do expect!
We wanted to visualise it, so we are wearing absolute different style clothing in the clip, summoning the New York hip hop and hardcore bands outfit of the 80’s. We made a very cool and funny mood video that can’t be taken serious, at all. So many bad things happened to us recently that we needed some happiness, at last. So we took our teenage ourselves out again and were just fooling around.”
‘Hometown Kid’ sees the lads channelling Green Day while lamenting the auld days as better. Which they were obviously. ‘Heartbreaker’ is pretty straight forward Hard Rock but with fiddle while ‘Rumble Outta Here’ plays like old old Paddy And The Rats. The lyrics tell of a long relationship, where you’ve been humiliated and leave and realise what you really need is your friends and a good drink in your favourite pub. They save the best for last and I bloody loved ‘The Last Hunt’. A great fast tune with the whole band giving it plenty in the chorus. The album ends, of course, with ‘Wonderland’ and appropriately enough a ballad. 2022 has not been a great year for them but hopefully they can put the first half of the year to bed now.
Discography Rats on Board (2009) * Hymns for Bastards (2011) * Tales from the Docks (2012) * Lonely Hearts’ Boulevard (2015) * Riot City Outlaws (2017) * From Wasteland to Wonderland (2022)