Album review: Ratboys – Printer’s Devil

By Sarah Ross

If you read any music blogs or follow any indie music Twitter accounts, chances are you’ve heard of Ratboys.

If you follow the Canadian outfit PUP, with whom Ratboys toured last fall, you’ve almost definitely heard of Ratboys.

And if you follow Bernie Sanders and his campaign stops, particularly that of Jan. 11, 2020, you’ve definitely heard of Ratboys. 

If you’re still wondering who Ratboys are, don’t worry. Their latest album, ‘Printer’s Devil‘, gives us the answer: a tight-knit band with soaring sounds ready to be put on repeat.

Guitarist-vocalist Julia Steiner demoed much of the album in her just-sold childhood home. Consequently or coincidentally, the record reflects a sense of transience, memory, and the shift from uncertainty to embracing change. Whether you know the stories behind each song or not, ‘Printer’s Devil’ readily extends a welcoming hand into narrative (‘I Go Out at Night’), memories (‘Anj’) and figuring everything out.

Steiner and guitarist David Sagan met one another at the University of Notre Dame, combining their individual musical influences to push Ratboys further and further. Now, after years of having friends and members of other bands filling in, ‘Printer’s Devil’ welcomes drummer Marcus Nuccio of Pet Symmetry and Mountains for Clouds and bassist Sean Neumann of indie pop project Jupiter Styles.

These additions make all the difference, not just because the sound is more full and consistent, but because they give the lyrics and emotional riffs the space to soar. The rocking rhythms set the tone for whatever destination each song holds. 

‘Printer’s Devil’ demonstrates a level of technical skill that allows each song to come out as a fully developed, coherent thought. Catchy riffs, distortion and quiet moments do not dominate a song but add detail. In a world where it’s easy to get distracted from what matters, Ratboys’ ‘Printer’s Devil’ delivers an honest, intelligent look at life. 

Perhaps that’s why you might have heard so much about them— the level of thought and emotion evident in each note gives you no choice but to say, quoting Bernie Sanders: “Let me thank the Ratboys for their music.” 

“Printer’s Devil” is out now on Topshelf Records

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