CD Review: Ratboy Jr., “Smorgasbord”

They’re called Ratboy Jr., their album comes in a brown sleeve made out of 100% recycled paper, and its second track includes the words “everything is wonderful, including the dirt.” I probably don’t need to tell you what kind of music to expect from Smorgasbord, but just in case you’re still unclear, I’ll spell it out for you: Don’t expect a lot of studio polish, and if you’re the type of parent who’d rather see your kid at Gymboree than splashing in the mud, or if you greet things like composting with an eyeroll, then you should probably stick with your Laurie Berkner CDs.

But if you like wild and woolly funky folk, feel free to dive face-first into Ratboy Jr.’s Smorgasbord‘s 15 tracks of fun. Charmingly ragged harmonies, warm brass, and a slightly jammy aesthetic all add up to a wonderfully down-to-earth listening experience that manages to feel as expansive as any Phish record while keeping every song under four minutes. The songs have a decidedly eco-friendly tilt (“Worms,” “Dirt,” “Living in the Trees”), but they treat the benefits of natural living as an implicit matter of course rather than something that needs to be taught. It’s just a fun time, man, and as a dad who appreciates a nice rootsy recording, I hope Ratboy Jr. brings us back to the table for many more helpings of polish-free pleasure. Everything is wonderful, indeed.