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Albums Of The Week: A Certain Ratio | It All Comes Down To This

After nearly 50 years, the U.K. post-punks haven't run out of ideas — or style.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:It All Comes Down To This, for now at least, is the sound of the current incarnation of A Certain Ratio. Indeed, in many senses, it is the purest distillation of their essential sound ever committed to tape. Their 13th studio album, it is the first time they have recorded strictly as the core trio of principal band members — multi-instrumentalists Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson.

From the moment the rattling, call-to-arms drumroll intro of opener All Comes Down to This gives in to a wall of slithering, watery guitar squawks and bounding, rubbery bass notes, it is obvious that A Certain Ratio have once again been able to tap into a new artery of life. The record’s 10 tracks present ten distinct moods, from the urgent, muscular, foreboding groove of Keep It Real to the open, breezy, melodic synth of God Knows, every bursting moment of It All Comes Down To This is defiantly, resiliently alive.

The essential difference between It All Comes Down To This and its immediate predecessors is that for this recording process, the band turned to the doyen of contemporary underground rock producers, Dan Carey (Black Midi, Kae Tempest, Black Country New Road).

After meeting at the 2021 Wide Awake Festival in London, they found that Carey was even more eager to realise a full-length collaboration than they were, and the dates were quickly set. Known for his rejection of sonic clutter and his uncompromising focus on the central tenets of the bands and artists he produces, Carey’s instincts closely aligned with ACR’s desire to return to the basics. What the band might not have been ready for, however, was quite the speed that Carey intended to work at. If there is a residual darkness in the album’s sonic aesthetic, then it pervades the subject matter, too.

As a snapshot of where A Certain Ratio stand in 2024, It All Comes Down To This is a towering testament to their staying power. For a band whose path has intersected with the lives of Joy Division, The Fall, Talking Heads, Madonna and Grace Jones, to now be immersed in their most creative and prolific period since the early 1980s, after 45 years together, puts the great majority of their contemporaries to shame. But then again, when you have always been preoccupied with laying the groundwork for your next steps, you’re unlikely ever to derive much satisfaction from standing still.”