With their second full-length album, simply titled II, out yesterday, it’s very clear that Bad Books maintain their unique sound. In this second collaboration between singer/songwriter Kevin Devine and Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra, the duo have become even more willing to stray from their musical comfort zones, breaking free of some of the artistic tendencies that many fans have come to know and love them for in their other projects.
“Forest Whitaker” sounds very much like their debut, yet nothing like it all at once. With hints of Nintendo pop synth in the background, and the duo’s notoriously simple and poignant lyrics, this song is really quite catchy. Though the song has an upbeat tempo right out of the gate, the overriding feeling here is one of tragedy, making the listening experience a bit dumbfounding yet still captivating. The backbeat and synths remind me of mid-eighties riffs while the lyrics tell a story complete with protagonists and antagonists, though the underlying tale seems to end up confusing the two.
All in all, I am looking forward to hearing the entire album and “Forest Whitaker” is a great place to start. Thus far, Bad Books have yet to disappoint.
II is out now via Triple Crown Records/Favorite Gentlemen.