Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

The Rat Road is SBTRKT’s creative vision fully realised

"The Rat Road"

Release date: 05 May 2023
SBTRKT - The Rat Road - Album Artwork
02 May 2023, 18:30 Written by Riley Moquin

The enigmatic producer takes a leap into the limelight with a sonically stunning 22-track comeback project.

When Drake and 21 Savage dropped their commercially successful collaboration Her Loss last year, fans were left wondering why the stunning track from their album announcement was missing. Turns out the track – entitled “Forward” – was from none other than Aaron Jerome, long-known by his stage name SBTRKT, and the voice on the record was that of LEILAH. “Forward” became one of a series of tracks Jerome released en route to his announcement of The Rat Road, his first record in seven years.

SBTRKT has long made use of a small group of common collaborators to serve as his voice on his records; Jerome’s previous work has been acclaimed for the performances of Sampha, Jessie Ware, and The-Dream, amongst others. On The Rat Road, LEILAH becomes the most common voice for the British producer; the singer’s performances are standout, reminding of how Jerome’s eponymous debut record SBTRKT in 2011 served as a breakout moment for Sampha’s career over a decade ago.

While the performances of SBTRKT’s guests are consistently outstanding, it’d be a disservice to devote too much focus to Jerome’s voices without giving credit to the common denominator from front to back on The Rat Road: Jerome himself. Amidst the performances of LEILAH, Sampha, Toro y Moi, D Double E and more, it is SBTRKT’s creative touch that leaves the most impressionable mark across the record. Between the pop-learning tracks, SBTRKT gives the listener instrumentals wholly dominated by his presence, such as “Wasted,” “You, Love,” and “You Broke My Heart But Imma Fix It.” Many of these have the voices of his common collaborators buried in Jerome’s work as instruments of their own – such as Sampha’s background contributions on “Don’t Let” – creating a dark moodiness that doesn’t let up from start to finish.

Recently, Jerome took to Twitter to mention how he feels he has ‘improved immensely’ as a producer. The Rat Road proves this undeniably true, and it's incredibly impressive given Jerome’s high-standing as a producer even before this record. The sonic quality of The Rat Road is perhaps second to no other record this year; the glitchiness of “L.F.O.,” the groove of “Days Go By,” the moodiness of “No Intention”; the record teeters around electronica and synth-pop, both with a cinematic touch, and surfing each genre masterfully.

Over the last year SBTRKT has shed his iconic mask, not stepping into the limelight, but leaping onto The Rat Road with his creative vision fully realised and accomplished. The Rat Road is a record from not just a producer, but an artist, fully in command of his new direction.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next