There aren’t many bands whose debut record tackle issues of mental health struggles, addiction, suicide attempts, and abysmal domestic violence among other heavy topics as bravely as newcomers Badflower. The LA based quartet’s first release, ‘OK, I’m Sick’, shines a harsh light on tough topics, while simultaneously striking some nice notes musically too.
Right from opener ‘x ANA x’ the mood is set, as frontman Josh Katz cries out for “Ana”, the personification here focused on anxiety-reducing drugs to emphasise a regretful dependence. It’s a full-throttle opening, almost aggressively insane, musically replicating the effects of the substance. It’s one of the album’s more wild moments, and feels uncontrolled and untamed to that of the rest of the record.
‘Ghost’ is arguably the most poignant moment on offer here, as Katz‘s lyrics depict multiple suicide attempts, recounting powerful portraits of self-harm and self-detestation. It’s a distressingly deep track, and handles such a sensitive subject with a real air of honesty and brutal emotion.
Similarly, the chilling horror tale of domestic “violent disease” on ‘Daddy’ is likewise dealt with careful hands and, conceptually, the group deserve great credit for speaking out about such things so delicately. Elsewhere, they also air crazed political outrage against everyone’s least favourite president on ‘Die’, as Katz bursts “Fuck you, Donnie boy!”, and even calls into question animal slaughter and meat consumption on the aptly-titled ‘Murder Games’. These guys don’t care for playing it safe when it come to song topics.
Yet, it’s not just important issues that Badflower dig deep into; there’s a plethora of tantalising musical moments to top it off too. ‘The Jester’‘s desperate call of “Is there anybody out there looking out for me?” introduces the incoming flux of deliciously catchy alternative choruses and hooks. ‘Promise Me’, with its euphoric, erupting chorus of emo-eclectic energy and youthful bliss is an obvious highlight, while ‘Girlfriend’ consists of indie-dipped riffs and a manic, stomper of a chorus.
Badflower have come out displaying all their bruises on ‘OK, I’m Sick’, and for that, the record should draw in all sorts of attention from all corners of the alternative scene. Tackling such current, personal, and sombre issues bravely and confidently through a sonic exploration of youthful, emo-influenced angst – this record has plenty to offer, and it’s all wrapped up in a blood-stained package that the group should be immensely proud of.