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Spins – The Boomtown Rats • “Citizens of Boomtown”

| April 10, 2020

The Boomtown Rats

Citizens of Boomtown


The Irish rockers’ first album in 36 years finds them reinvigorated and ready to do the Rat. Citizens of Boomtown’s palette connects to the group’s history while flinging them into sonic settings not yet invented when the group hung up its tails in 1986. Singer Bob Geldof has described “Trash Glam Baby” as the story of a sequined tramp and living glitter ball, namechecking heroes like the New York Dolls and updating the type of character once fêted in the bubblegum punk of 1978’s “She’s So Modern.” Garry Roberts’ guitar bristles throughout Citizens. Roberts rages through the leering rockabilly stomper “She Said No,” while Geldof’s character reaps his just reward for loutish behavior toward his lady love.

Thundering drummer Simon Crowe drops the hammer with a swaggering two-ton beat. Later, Crowe points the shimmering California-pop euphoria of “Here’s a Postcard” directly toward summer sunshine. Bassist/producer Pete Briquette explores electroclash with “Get a Grip” and throbbing theme song “The Boomtown Rats.” The gliding tones of “Passing Through” recall latter-era Bowie gems like “Fall Dog Bombs the Moon.” Having experienced his share of tragedy Geldof’s lyrics are stoic and haunted by loss. Alan Dunn’s sparkling piano coda echoes textures former member once brought to “I Don’t Like Mondays.” “Monster Monkey” has swamp-rock mojo and the talking-blues sizzle of John Lee Hooker, before veering toward urbane club textures. The sting of Roberts’ razor-sharp fretwork makes for a unique hybrid electropop-blues and hints at what might have happened if songs like “$6,000,000 Loser” from Geldof’s solo catalog had been entrusted to his old mates. Geldof’s lyric makes a sly nod to Chuck Berry and John Lennon, and the song serves as the tipping point from the Rats you knew toward the Rats you hope to hear again.

– Jeff Elbel

8 out of 10


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