Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes – ‘Dark Rainbow’

By Katherine Allvey

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes have turned a contemplative corner. If 2021’s ‘Sticky’ was the sound of daring someone to fight you down a back alleyway outside a bar, then ‘Dark Rainbow’, their newest album, is the soundtrack to several hours after that fight when everyone’s feeling a bit more pensive and less combative. The ‘come and get it’ spirit we’ve come to expect from the Rattlesnakes is still woven throughout the album, but what they want to share is a sense of honesty about who and where they are rather than a snapshot of a defiant moment.

“I’m just witnessing the world change so quickly around me and I’m still trying to come to terms with who I am and what the authentic version of me is,” Carter says. “By giving people what I thought they wanted I think I got further and further away from who I actually am, you know? So now, first and foremost, I’m prioritising what I need.” 

First drop ‘Brambles’ feels like a primer to the new Rattlesnakes mood. Of course there’s the trademark pounding guitar, but it’s providing the pillars which support a dreamlike, gauzy haze of strings and lovelorn wondering. When there is finally a slam of guitar, it comes as a welcome relief before soft choral vocals drift back in to cloud the melody. This track seems to exemplify many of the questions which this album presents. Who threw lukewarm water on the Rattlesnake’s venomous fire? Why knock every song down to half the normal speed and intensity?

Their last two albums were recorded in a single location and produced by guitarist Dean Richardson, whereas ‘Dark Rainbow’ was created by committee in short bursts with breaks in between, so it’s easy to blame a shadowy outside influence. However, the Rattlesnakes have always had ballads inside them waiting to get out – take 2017’s anthem ‘Lullaby’ for instance – but their tendency to wail out their feelings was always tempered by a slamming beat. Perhaps this is a natural evolution to their sound, given their desire to make a record which is true to their own feelings.

That said, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes shouldn’t be written off as softies quite yet. ’Honey’, the opening track, is definitely going to fit nicely into their setlist on their next six months of global touring with its quirky, upbeat-yet-ominous baselines and singalong pit potential. There’s a daring optimism bursting through the distortion on ‘Self-Love’ which makes it much more than just a heartfelt mantra, and when they shave some jagged edges into their sentiment Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes are still producing cracking singles. ‘Man Of The Hour’, another advance drop, is going to prove divisive to the Rattlensnakes’ many devotees with its Muse-lite dependence on piano and vague moralising. It’s easy to picture hoards of fans singing their hearts out to the song and the live reception is going to be what makes it a memorable song. Similarly, the wail and crunchy drops in ‘Can I Take You Home’ will cancel out how loungey most of the verses are, and it’s safe to say that pretty much every song on ‘Dark Rainbow’ has a moment or aspect which is brilliant.

While ‘Dark Rainbow’ may split the critics and crowds, you have to respect what the Rattlesnakes are trying to accomplish. They’ve stepped out of their comfort zone and taken a risk, prioritising making an emotional statement over sticking to producing solid yet sometimes formulaic bangers. Regardless of whether their new slower and more reasoned stance resonates with you, there’s a lot to admire on ‘Dark Rainbow’.

KATE ALLVEY

Three more album reviews for you

LIVE: Slam Dunk Festival @ Hatfield Park, UK

Perennial - 'Art History'

Slow Joy - 'Mi Amigo Slow Joy'