Album Review: Bad Bad Hats – Lightning Round

Released earlier this month on Afternoon Records, Bad Bad Hats’ latest record is a whirlwind indie pop narrative of independence and dependence in relationships. It is only the band’s second release, but already, they sound confident and bold, mixing gritty elements with smooth synth melodies effortlessly.

a3967453640_10Frontwoman Kerry Alexander’s vocals are soft and sweet and velvet throughout the album, regardless of whether she’s singing over warping synth or gritty guitar riffs. The result is surprisingly honest, and no matter what the subject, it’s almost too easy to buy into whatever she’s singing because of how sheerly genuine she comes across.

She is backed, of course, by the eclectic blend of gravelly guitar and smooth, spacey synth that is characteristic of Bad Bad Hats. Nearly every song is poppy and percussive throughout the album, even the slower ones–”Talk With Your Hands” is light but does not lack substance, driven by faded, faraway percussion.

But the band still chooses to alternate between brighter, more upbeat tracks such as “Makes Me Nervous” and slower, smoother ballads like “Write It On Your Heart”, which features a strong acoustic guitar and vocals that are tinged with heartbreak. It keeps the album from feeling repetitive, and since everything is in the same vein, there is no sense of whiplash as you listen to the album all the way through.

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Photo by Amy Anderson.

Despite only having two records out now, Bad Bad Hats is not afraid to deviate from the norm of indie pop music, adding in elements of weirdness anywhere that the record could use a little bit of a kick: a thin, warping string of synth weaves its way through the melody in “Girl”, and the background instrumental is a little spacey in “Nothing Gets Me High”. The band does not stray far from what is popular, though, thus maintaining its impressive accessibility.

 

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