Review: BadBadNotGood, “IV” (2016)

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BadBadNotGood are one of those groups you check out because they have a funny name. I was first introduced to them via a Spotify Discover search and listened to their album III for a good few months straight. I really loved their fusion of hip hop beats, modern jazz, electronic, soul and rnb sensibilities – and with such minimalism at times. BadBadNotGood are comprised of Sax, Keys, Bass and Drums. They then collaborated with rapper Ghostface Killah last year on Sour Soul, which was further explored their sonic horizons and was a solid merge of styles. They even appeared on KAYTRANADA’s album 99.9% with WEIGHT OFF. Now they return with IV, which sees them settling into their sound and showcasing who they are and what they’re capable of.

The first track ‘And That, Too’ has a subtle synth motif with a slow electronic beat behind it. It is quite a haunting track that channels some of their signature sounds . ‘Speaking Gently’ is a very BadBadNotGood with a drum and bass beat, subtle synths and a big sax solo. My favourite track on the album, ‘Time Moves Slow’ featuring Samuel T. Herring on vocals, is a moody rnb and soul track with a very catchy chorus. Herring ruminates on time and lost love: ‘Time Moves Slow/When You’re All Alone/And The Time Moves Slow/When You’re Out On Your Own/And The Time Moves Slow/When You’re Missing A Friend’. It’s a deep and introspective song. Check it.

The feel shifts to the 5/4 sax-heavy ‘Confessions Pt II’. Then KAYTRANADA appears with ‘Lavender’ – a track with a hip hop groove and a very dirty bass synth. Apart from ‘IV’, an spasmodic jazz-odyssey with multiple time-signature changes, the album feels contained as a general ‘mood’ (apart from the changes seen in ‘Structure No. 3’ or ‘Cashmere’) which for some may be the frustration with it. There of course being the other exception of ‘Hyssop of Love’ featuring Mick Jenkins, which is similar to something you would find on Soul Soul.  There isn’t a lot of variation in dynamic (the most dynamic songs being ‘Speaking Gently’, ‘Confessions Pt II’  and ‘IV’) and it can be quite repetitive and almost elevator music-like at times. If you don’t like minimalistic and moody music, then you may not like this.

BadBadNotGood are one of the most interesting instrumental bands out there. Their fusion of multiple styles and their minimalism is their strength and also at times, their weakness. Despite these stylistic matters, this album demonstrates that they are fully aware of who they are as a group, and it shows their collaborative efforts are only improving. ‘Time Moves Slow’ is a cracker of a track and could be a big break for them. If you’re a fan of their instrumental work or collaboration with Ghostface Killah, then you’ll definitely dig IV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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