Rats on Rafts Credit: Jasmijn Slegh

In their 15 years together, Rotterdam postpunk band Rats on Rafts have built a comfortable existence and a decent hometown following, but their new album, Excerpts From Chapter 3: The Mind Runs a Net of Rabbit Paths, is a declaration that they’re no longer satisfied with mere comfort. On their 2008 EP, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and their debut full-length, 2011’s The Moon Is Big, they toed the line between crafting the perfect three-minute punk screed and embracing their more outre influences, especially the example set by fellow Netherlanders the Ex. The songs on Excerpts mix musical experimentation and magical-realist storytelling. Singer and guitarist David Fagan, a founding member of Rats on Rafts, told English-language Japanese magazine Metropolis that the band’s 2018 Japanese tour opening for Franz Ferdinand inspired the album’s concept: it colors its loose fictional narrative with moments drawn from the past four or five years of the musicians’ lives. The second track, “A Trail of Wind and Fire,” features a driving, koto-like pattern created by Fagan and Arnoud Verheul’s guitars. As the beat swells up, Fagan sings, “We will rise again,” shaping the beginning of an album-long journey taken by the album’s unnamed protagonist. The self-assured swagger of Excerpts culminates wonderfully in “Part Two: Crossing the Desert,” which reinforces the album’s story line with noise samples and clatter reminiscent of the band’s previous album, 2015’s Tape Hiss. Despite those echoes of the past, Excerpts proves that Rats on Rafts have the maturity and confidence to leap into new territory.   v