Baddies - Build
- By Chris Jefferies -
- Mar 01, 2012
Essex four-piece Baddies burst onto the indie-rock scene in 2009 with their critically acclaimed debut album 'Do The Job', having made their name by playing more festivals in one summer than any other band in Europe (32, since you asked).
The success of that record was built on classic hard-rock riffs, mindlessly catchy choruses and a staccato vocal style that was almost robotic. This sound drew favourable comparisons with The Futureheads and early Queens of the Stone Age.
On this, their difficult second album, the band has gone for a more synth-led sound, largely jettisoning the riffs in favour of slow-burning melodies. On producer duties, in comes Sean Genockey, who has previously worked with the Manic Street Preachers.
This new approach doesn't always hit the mark as directly or consistently as their earlier stuff, but the few tracks where they manage to pull it off are really effective. Think 'Humbug'-era Arctic Monkeys and you're not far off.
The yearning for reinvention is made blatantly clear on the first two tracks, as lead singer Michael Webster tells us: "Underneath the surface, I'm not feeling quite the same, I need rewiring" and "I'm going to build my very own man-made man".
From here onwards the tempo drops significantly - 'Mind Machines' is too repetitive by half, 'The Lightmen' provides a charmless nadir at the centre of the album, while 'Excess Energy' sadly fails to live up to its promising title.
'Talk To Me Germany' is a timely reminder of how to write an upbeat chorus, but it's not until the last two tracks that the band's quality really and truly shines through.
The punchy lead single 'Bronto' combines some bizarre lyrics with the raucous sing-along refrain "This Friday, it'll be louder than last Friday". Indeed, this is the only track that wouldn't have looked out of place on the band's debut album.
But, it's the closing track 'Star Surfing' that really vindicates Baddies' bold new choice of direction, as this ambitious seven-minute epic reaches a truly satisfying conclusion, with cleverly crafted keyboard hooks and softly crooned vocals. This is comfortably their best track to date.
All in all, 'Build' shows some sporadic flashes of brilliance, but it's not consistent enough to be seen as a proper step forward from 'Do The Job'. But were they to combine the more successful moments of this record with the brattish energy of their debut, then Baddies would truly be onto something special.
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