Review: Bad Books – Bad Books

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What is one to expect of Bad Books; a collaboration between Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull and Kevin Devine; perhaps something completely different and entirely experimental or maybe a combination of Devine’s music and Manchester Orchestra’s acoustic songs? The latter is the case.

Devine and Hull’s songwriting displays a form of storytelling within their songs with intense imagery and passion. This release felt like the best writing of the collaborators mashed into a blender and instead of ending up in a mess, the songs are simply beautiful and touching. Bad Books’ release affects the listener on so many levels that it seems like the universe guided Hull and Devine together for the sake of sincere heartwarming music.

In regards to the collaboration the members stated that it came naturally with a very open minded approach allowing each others musical freedom whilst being open for input and guidance, leading to a powerful and moving end product.

The majority of the tracks on the album are acoustic and extremely minimal with the exception of “Holding Down The Laughter”, “You Wouldn’t Have To Ask” and “Please Move”. The first two present more of a pop oriented sound, highlighting the diversity included on the release and the variety of songwriting skills by the writers.

“You’re A Mirror I Cannot Avoid” is a great example of Devine’s lyrical songwriting skills. Truly poetic and metaphorical, the song guides the listener through a journey with the potential to be interpreted in multiple ways; allowing the listener to relate to it personally. Lines like “A leaky battery that can’t keep charged / Get in the car and say what you mean / Explain yourself to me” differentiates the lyrics from usual generic heard-before ones, underlining the uniqueness of what Bad Books have created.

Apart from being a virtual treasure for any Manchester Orchestra or Kevin Devine fan, Bad Books has immense crossover appeal and potential. Hopefully, this wasn’t a one off side project and we’ll see more releases from this effective collaboration. (Favorite Gentlemen / Razor & Tie)

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

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  • chissy

    awesome review, i love this band–such great music from what i've heard. great collabo!

  • Steve

    "Hopefully, this wasn’t a one off side project and we’ll see more releases from this effective collaboration."

    Agreed–and based on all the positive press I've heard about them, I think that's a definite possibility!

  • jordan

    great stuff! I am loving their new album :) I hope that they will tour in my area!