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Frank Carter & The RattlesnakesDark Rainbow

International Death Cult / AWAL
26th January, 2024
Repeat Listens!

A serpentine collection of rock, ballads, and a whole lotta heart, the brand new album Dark Rainbow from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes is a sharp and refreshing addition to the UK duo’s catalogue.

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An album simultaneously glancing forward, backwards and internally, Dark Rainbow may stylistically deviate from its predecessor, the more upbeat and collab-laden 2021 LP Sticky – but Dark Rainbow also feels equally familiar, timely, and inescapably meaningful, with the album also firmly featuring some of Carter’s most prolific vocal performances to date.

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Opening with the Queens of the Stone Age-esque Honey, Dark Rainbow initially strikes a sensual and elegantly dark sonic pose, with Carter and co-conspirator Dean Richardson serving up what they traditionally do best: a heady, humid and fun-as-hell toe-tapper complete with steel wool riffs and infectious hooks. But from here on out, we’re not in the Rattlesnakes equivalent of Kansas anymore as Carter and Richardson dive wholeheartedly into realms lined with gothic ballads and swooning rock. 

From glossy odes to the toxicity of the glamorous rock star trope (Man of the Hour) to brooding chordal organs set alongside oscillating languid verses and stomping choruses (Can I Take You Home), Dark Rainbow also forays into Southern rock swagger via American Spirit, a track which flexes between fiery light and softer shade.

On album number five, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes genuinely have something to say, and they convey it with nuance, poise, and just a touch of kindhearted carnage

While still dispersing plenty of sturdy alternative rock gems, case in point the polished Happier Days, Dark Rainbow also holds much of its charm in its latter half, with the woozy Brambles still dusting in heavier moments alongside its jewelled moments of ambience and world music-inspired melodics spurring Carter’s vocals to show-stopping heights.

Holding the intimate heart of Dark Rainbow, Queen of Hearts lowers the BPMs and flows with a soft yet beautiful melancholy, leading perfectly into the stunning gothic stylings of Sun Bright Golden Happening. Here, Carter croons across a reverberated solo piano and whispers of strings in sublime fashion. A party-starter it ain’t, but there is something inescapably magical about the breathless moment, with Carter oozing with a genuine vulnerability that leaps through the speakers.

And between the grungier anthemic hues of Superstar and the upbeat modern sparkle of Self Love, Dark Rainbow begins to draw to a closer, with its final track A Dark Rainbow finishing on a more subdued yet cathartic note.

For long-time Rattlesnakes fans, the inclusion of swooning ballads and crooning alt rock won’t be entirely unfamiliar, with the band previously occasionally dipping their toes into both. And while Dark Rainbow wields moments capable of inciting sweaty singalongs and some mosh pit chaos, the ultimate end product is one of innovation, exploration, and self realisation – a fact made even more substantial given that some of the album’s songs were themselves carry-overs from previous albums. On album number five, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes genuinely have something to say, and they convey it with nuance, poise, and just a touch of kindhearted carnage.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Honey, American Spirit, Sun Bright Gold Happening
STICK THIS NEXT TO: The Bronx, Cancer Bats, Airways

Dark Rainbow is out Friday 26 January via International Death Cult / AWAL.

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