In the mid-to-late 1970s The Boomtown Rats bombastically burst through the Irish rock scene, dominated at that time by Thin Lizzy and Van Morrison, and had something (actually, a lot) to say about the socio, economic, and political state of their country – and the world. They transferred this anger and frustration and their vermin-like demeanor into some form of musical activism, from “Rat Trap” grumbling about living in a depressing town to the more jarring 1979 hit “I Don’t Like Mondays,” written in response to a rare – at the time – school shooting in San Diego, or Bob Geldof writing “Lookin’ After No. 1” while in the dole office.
Now, 36 years since The Boomtown Rats’ final album together (1984’s In the Long Grass), the world continues to be in disarray, and Geldof along with original members guitarist Garry Roberts, bassist Pete Briquette, and drummer Simon Crowe are back with their seventh album Citizens of Boomtown. And they still have something to say.
Sticky opener “Trash Glam Baby” glides into a Slade-like state with the bebop groove of T. Rex. Returning to the Rats’ roots, the song follows a glitter punk girl dancing by herself but too close to the lights, as if recasting Tonic for the Troops’ “She’s So Modern” (“She’s so 20th Century/ She’s so 1970s”) for the current millennium. Keeping the gutter-glam thing going on “Sweet Thing,” there’s talk about a “love stick,” so all is good – perhaps some Boomtown-level levity is needed after 36 years, and since the world is still in such a state. Digitized, bluesy beats backed by Roberts’ crunchy riffs round out “Monster Monkeys.”
Citizens eases into the more somber pop ballad “Passing Through,” steadfast in the face of loss with the chorus “We will not break/ We will not bend/ We’ll take these rented souls and remember them …We’ll just pretend that nothing’s changed.” The tempo revs back up with the rock jig of “K.I.S.S.” and Bob sounding more Dylan than Geldof on the anthemic “Rock ‘n’ Roll Yé Yé.” The synth-drenched “Get a Grip” is the perfect segue into the band’s dancehall theme song “The Boomtown Rats” closing things out.
Overall, Citizens, produced by Briquette, finds The Boomtown Rats in their element in their current state. They’re direct. They’ll say what they want. They’re still loud, still brash (and a bit cheeky), and they’ll never take anyone’s shit.
The Boomtown Rats
Citizens of Boomtown