Rat Wars

(Loma Vista)


Rat Wars, the sixth album from LA noise rock band HEALTH, often reaches a level of drone that treads the line between meditation and inertia, lulling listeners into a trance that may cause lingering anxiety. The track titles don’t diverge from this atmosphere, with names like ‘Sicko’, ‘Unloved’, and ‘DSM-V’. Naming a song after the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders certainly sets a certain tone for an album. The record seems to be a meditation on the internal, without relying on words to express the things going on inside the musicians’ – and the listeners’ – minds; HEALTH have created a soundscape that serves as a foundation onto which fans can project their own emotional journey.


This might also be due in part to the similarities between many of the songs – one tends to roll into the next with very little sonic difference, creating the disorientating result of not knowing when you’ve listened to the whole album and started over again. However, one thing that might help is paying extra attention to the final song, ‘Don’t Try’. Echoing strings bounce off the inside of your mind, pulling you towards the bare, soft vocals. Instead of hopelessness, you feel yourself walking a path towards hypnotic happiness, through the catharsis that comes from listening to a great song and feeling it inspire the same emotions in you that its creator felt once. Or, at the very least, convincing you that you’ve felt it before.