Rat Columns is one of the many projects for Aussie legend David West, who has been part of notable groups like Scythe, Liberation and Total Control among others. In this particular act, their focus is on guitar-driven melodic indie pop/rock, which leads us to their latest album Pacific Kiss. A record full of breezy, optimistic shades and emotions, one that constantly brings an uplifting spirit to the seldom-seen somber notes tucked within its corners. There are plenty of great moments throughout this album which may come in as subtle but later provide strong payoffs. From the soft vocal melodies, the brisk piano chords and wonderful riffs that take from R&B and surf, everything feels deliberate and with intention.
A sense of relaxation washes over the harmonious jangle of “Hey I Wanna Give You The World” and its follow up “It’s Your Time (To Suffer Now)”. There’s nothing loud or overly bombastic in their songwriting, instead each sonic element starts unassuming and bare, yet put together they coalesce into something special. As such this would be a record that I would recommend to let simmer for longer in order to discover its many hidden gems and lovely moments.
Later tracks like “No Stranger to Life” give off a more classic and nostalgic feel. The heavy use of piano and vocal harmonies in this track make it feel like a teenage dream full of optimism and drive. In “Candlelight” this brilliance takes the form of an upbeat shuffle laced with the surprising addition of jazzy horns and oceanic-sounding guitar riffs. Special moments are few and far in between, but when they do appear it elevates the song to a whole new level.
I’d also say that there are plenty of things here that uplift the whole record from simply being some quick and breezy pop fare. “Soul Kiss I” and “Soul Kiss II” is a two part serenade about affection that transcends the physical realm. The longest track in the record “Athens” clocks in at a runtime of 7 minutes, and is a venerable display on how to create anticipation throughout a song and make it feel rewarding in the end.
I’ve heard that anything David West touches back there in the land down under has a mark of quality to it. After hearing Pacific Kiss, it’s not hard to see why. This is a brilliant record with its own distinct style and atmosphere that is worth checking out.