Published May 02, 2019More than nineteen years ago, L7 went on "an indefinite hiatus" after putting out their sixth studio album, Slap-Happy, two years prior, to mixed reviews and poor sales. In 2014, the Los Angeles band reunited and are now offering up Scatter the Rats, their first album in 20 years.
Fans of the band's breakthrough 1992 album Bricks Are Heavy will note a few of its similarities to this latest record in sound and spirit — except Scatter the Rats comes off much tamer. L7 do most of what they already know, but do it well.
The best of this record comes early, with opening tracks "Burn Baby," "Fighting the Crave" and "Proto Prototype." "Burn Baby" is a sardonic grunge hit with clean, satisfying guitar riffs on a chorus where Donita Sparks chants that everyone will "burn at the stake" in a playful, disaffected manner. "Fighting the Crave" kicks it up a notch with heavy, distorted guitars, deeper bass and louder drums, as does the drudging, near-apocalyptic "Proto Prototype," accompanied by scratchy, growling background vocals.
Scatter the Rats falters as it gets closer to its middle. With "Murky Water Café," its references to modern hook-up culture — they chant "Swipe right! Swipe left! Like me, follow me!" on the outro — come off less biting, more hokey. Sonically, "Ouija Board Lies" is enjoyable, but lyrically sounds like it belongs to a less mature band.
The record picks back up in earnest with some of the final tracks, culminating in the doomsday finale "Scatter the Rats," a booming mid-tempo grunge track with wicked imagery that caps off the project with an angry and disgusted wail. (Blackheart)