ALBUM REVIEW: Bad//Dreems – Gutful

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There’s an inauspicious start with the BD-by numbers Johnny Irony but any doubts of a sophomore slump are quickly quashed by first single Mob Rule which utilises gang chants and pub rock bar chords to rail against the narrow-minded, pack mentality sub-cultures in Australian society.

That sentiment permeates much of the album, blatantly and subtly. It’s their statement of sorts and it comes at a timely moment as they’re a band that sits right on the border between underground, rock ‘n’ roll notoriety and cred, and the larger, promotion-driven world of festivals, triple j and the accompanying dumbed down bloke vibe that can sometimes invade that transition.

Elsewhere, Ben, Alex, James and Miles hit some fine melancholic spots like the yearning By Your Side and the woolly strum of Pagan Rage – a distant sonic echo to one of their first singles Chills. They still bear the iconic Aussie rock imprint of producer Mark Opitz but overall this is a less forced and more subtly varied album that even takes in saxophone on A Million Times Alone. Stripped of the bluster and noise it highlights how well the band blends mood and wistful melody alongside lurching rock n roll.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Bad//Dreems – Feeling Remains

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Bad//Dreems have released the second single from their forthcoming new LP Gutful (out April 21st).

Feeling Remains is reliably and solidly straight from the BD songbook. It has those tension-filled verses they do so well, full of tumbling toms and rolling bass, with Alex Cameron’s guitar clipped and urgent downstrokes carving out a stacatto rhythm that contrasts with a Saints/Sex Pistols descending chord progression. It defines their status as one of the few bands in Australia that can sit comfortably at the nexus of punk, classic rock and indie rock.

When they hit the chorus, and Bad//Dreems are a band with seemingly endless cache of rousing choruses, the rush and the push lifts the song skyward. Interestingly the sense of euphoria that it instils is at odds with the song’s subject matter of mental health and the endless struggle to accept, manage and mitigate the effects of depression in one’s life. “The feeling still remains, and the question stays the same, then I put it into all the things I can do to make a heart strong, but the feeling still remains” sings Ben Marwe in his distinctive angst-ridden howl.

That blend of melancholy and euphoria at the core of the song is an astute representation of the mood swings and divisive extremes of both defiance and helplessness that so many battle on a daily basis. Dig deeper below the surface (and taken in tandem with their first single Mob Rule) of what at first may seem like a bristling 3 minute rock song and it’s clear that the band have taken a wider societal and critical view on the new album.

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