There’s an irrepressible kinetic energy running through the opening parts of ‘Live & Learn’, the debut album from Croydon three-piece, Bad Sign. Listening as the band shifts through riffs, one feels bodily compelled to move (always difficult to do on a crowded train).
You can almost feel their invisible force as they guide the audience through the motions, from the permission-to-mosh opener ‘Liars & Lovers’ all the way through to the clap-along drum roll ending of ‘Square One’, before instructing you turn those hands immediately skyward to fist pump with each word of the final refrain. To put it another way, Bad Sign consider themselves to be a live band, and this album shows that off handsomely.
If this delicate choreography is evidence of a measured approach, the band could rein themselves in at other times. Having built up nicely, they proceed at a canter into muddier territory with the bass-heavy ‘Closure’, which conspires to sound a bit too much like a Royal Blood/Biffy Clyro mash-up. This alone means it will probably be a phenomenal success, and if that’s what it takes then it would be wrong to complain. Other tracks suffer from their own momentum; ‘Attrition’ could be a few parts shorter, but mostly the songs don’t overstay their welcome.
It can be difficult in this genre to bring fresh ideas, and while the sounds that Bad Sign produce may be familiar, the compositions of the songs are exciting and interesting, particularly in top track ‘Certitude’ which manages to switch up sections with enough passion to keep you guessing all the way through.
Laid-back ‘October’ is also a welcome break from the onslaught, and an example of careful production – a lazier band might have thoughtlessly thrown on some higher-register female guest vocals to compliment Joe Appleford‘s lone howl, but leaving him out there, isolated for most of the album bar a few latent examples is incredibly effective (and maintains the live intensity that they’re committed to).
Bad Sign have come out of the blocks on fire. Their attitude and hook-heavy songs mean that they’re about to become your dad’s new favourite band; the one that he spots at a festival, and watches while wiping away tears on the sleeve of his extra large Metallica shirt, muttering something about “real, honest music”. But, they also still have that raw, guttural, basement gig aesthetic that makes them infinitely appealing.
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)