Bad Books

Bad Books

Written by: DR on 23/03/2011 21:01:56

Okay, so we're supposed to be done with 2010, but there's one release that had somehow escaped my attention until recently. That is the debut of indie supergroup Bad Books. The word 'supergroup' is used with hesitation, as it's actually little more than a pair of friends who have found recognition with their own individual projects in similar circles, who have often played together without a band name and often with mutual friend Jesse Lacey. Their names? Andy Hull and Kevin Devine.

Actually, that is a little misleading because there are actually six members of Bad Books. But make no mistake, Hull and Devine are everything in this - they've even been known to tour under the band's name as just a pair, rather than a sextet - and it is they who write the ten songs between them, with each penning five. There probably was some degree of collaboration on the tracks, however, as even though "Bad Books" often sounds pretty much like what you'd expect it to - part Right Away, Great Captain! and part Kevin Devine's solo work - there are examples of experimentation, particularly on Hull's end.

Right Away, Great Captain!, for those who haven't listened, is Andy Hull's project aside from Manchester Orchestra. It's basically him and his acoustic guitar playing lo-fi, stripped down folky acoustic music, and then all of the emotion that man has comes pouring through his meditave voice. "Texas" and "I Begged You Everything" are examples of this, but despite his vocals being as soulful as ever, these get buried beneath his more attention-worthy full-band efforts such as "Please Move", which is dominated by aggressive guitar-playing and made slightly more special by Devine's backing vocals in the chorus.

As for Kevin Devine, well he simply shines. This man could sing the phone book, and with his guitar in hand he'd make it sound beautiful. From the stripped down efforts of "Mesa, AZ", "You're A Mirror I Cannot Avoid" and "The Easy Mark & The Old Maid" to the pop-y highlight "Holding Down The Laughter", his ability and lyrical flair prevail. Even in single "You Wouldn't Have To Ask", which Hull mostly sings, it has Devine at heart. Kevin Devine is almost ten years older than his counter-part; this experience is why his five feel noticably more assured, stronger, and as a result are more memorable.

Their combined talent conjures up a few gems amidst a largely decent album, but while this is a pleasing listen it isn't one that will match the prior expectations these two will generate. Let's just hope they're holding back the really, really good stuff for the new albums we can expect from their separate works later this year.

Download: Holding Down The Laughter; You Wouldn't Have To Ask; Please Move; Mesa, AZ
For The Fans of: Right Away, Great Captain!; Kevin Devine; Iron & Wine
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 19.10.2010
Favorite Gentlemen/Razor & Tie

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