When "Penance" first starts there is a lot of percussion. The first song sounds like thsi giant drum circle, though it's not one of those feel-good moments in the woods somewhere, but rather it has more of a "Lord of the Flies" inside an abandoned warehouse sense to it. There are these howls which would later on be recognized as vocals as they appear on another song in a similar manner. "Open Heart Surgery" might be the most interesting song to ever open a cassette but it only gets more interesting from there somehow.
There is this sound of rock, but not really rock it's just based in rock and I cannot describe it. At first, the words flow in this manner which make me think of that Carpenters song with the hook "Why do birds suddenly appear" (though that is not the title of that song-- thanks, Google!) but this is so far from that kind of mellow rock I don't even know how that name is getting dropped in the same review. It could be simply called "art punk" if you're lazy. Pass it off as being in a genre with Le Tigre, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, hell, I'll even give you some resemblance to Fear Before The March of Flames in here. But there is this early Gatsbys American Dream vibe as well, don't discredit that either.
The songs have this sort of math rock, sort of carnival ride like Willy Wonka going through the tunnel. It's hectic. Frantic. There is this urgency to it. But it's not as fast paced as other punk rock in ways. It's more of a "We know you're in a hurry, so we're going to do these starts and stops to make you wait". Through these big guitar riffs too I'm reminded of Nirvana. Mostly stuff from "Bleach" and songs before that (Which, you know, if you listen to their demos or outtakes, that sort of stuff), but it's funny because as soon as my mind thought Nirvana it went to "Bleach" and then it went to "Big Cheese", which, you know... Street Rat... Rats and cheese... That can't be a coincidence, right?
Side A says to fast forward and then flip it to get to Side B, but Side A ended on its own for me somehow. Side B starts with this drone that turns into something like a car engine revving it. Lasers come into what sounds like this drag race in space. It gets really loud and screechy, something like a modem but not in a technological way. (Is there such a thing as an acoustic modem sound?) It's like cars are peeling out and racing around the track, but I suppose you could find your own vision in here though I'm not sure why mine went to cars since I haven't watched "Speed Racer" in a long while. In contrast to the first side, there are no vocals here and I guess since this song is called "Roaches On The Ceiling" it could have some sort of insect vibe to it if you wish to go that way (Shout out to TMNT and Cockroach Terminator)
As this sounds like a jet engine it just screeches in higher and higher pitches until it finally just kind of trails off. Some more high pitched type sounds bring us to the end and it's just... I understand now why Side A and Side B are the way that they are. Regardless of song length, you'd think there would be four songs per side if it's eight in total, but the way this is divided makes a lot of sense. And I'd say it almost could feel like this was a split, such as two different artists on each side, but because of the way the cassette opened I know that Street Rat is capable of creating both of these different yet similar styles of sound and both of them are exceptional.