A horrible hack

Bad Vision

s/t

Year Released: 2013
Format: LP
Label: Adagio830 - Every Night Is A Saturday Night
 
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Jun 7, 2014
BAD VISION's debut LP has reached me at the right time of year, much of it being slices of sunny garage-punk which sit well with the warm May sunshine. Their 2013 7" foreshadowed this side of their sound, and both tracks are included here, plenty of bright, chiming riffs on "112", and more of a swagger on "Visions", with a contrasting slow-motion yelped-out chorus. "Proto-punk" is often namechecked as an inspiration of their style, and you can hear a little of that in the attitude of opener "Dirty blood". "You're like glass, baby / You shatter when it gets too hot," they sing, and later "You're like wine, baby / But you don't get better with age." But most of the LP is a little too cute to fully deserve that tag - it doesn't pull off the menace, the spirit of alienation or aggression that couldn't be contained by rock tropes. The sleeve is aiming for tough, with its circles of flickknives and guns, but I'm dubious about what they're saying with the bruised-up young girl's face at the centre of it all.

Musically, there's definitely a darker swirl running through the LP alongside the brightness, moments when the energy becomes a little tense and sinister. "Submarine" adds a hint of ambiguity and minor-key mood in the verses before hitting its stop-start merry chorus, and suddenly the album hits a bit of a WIPERS-y streak, the next three songs pulling more of a taut, focused sound, streamlined away from the boisterous rock'n'roll ideas elsewhere. "Shot in the night" draws on Scandi-style garage punk, the twin guitars needling out a nervous energy, one soaring in octaves above the vocal line, the other punching out a lower, fuzzier spot in the mix. There's no bass here, and the rhythm guitar fulfils that function a lot of the time. It's a trade-off: more complex moves than a four-string player could manage, against a lack of low end. In this context it actually works well with BAD VISION's sound.

The rest of the LP continues to swing between the two main moods outlined above, with "Worlds collide", a slower jam with a soaring jangling verse hook, dropped in for variety. There are a couple of tracks at the back end of the record that I wouldn't have objected to losing - "I've got a problem" and "Smokin' mirrors" are garage-by-numbers - but a strong one-two finishes up, the nervy, choppy rhythms of "Photocopy" and memorable chorus of "Fishbowl" ending on a high. Overall, the relative conservatism of the sound focuses attention on the songwriting, and in that respect it's a solid LP with some great moments, but lacks the spice or distinctiveness to push it towards the top of the pile.

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