BAD//DREEMS | GUTLESS (LP)
The sophomore blues are something Bad//Dreems have happily skipped past with the release of their eagerly anticipated Gutless. The album reluctantly takes on the pub rock styling that defined the debut so clearly, and considers the dirty reflection of the culture surrounding not only the band, but that of a nation.
Mob Rule, the track that initiated the Gutless media cycle, was a scathing piece. Yet it also set out to define who Bad//Dreems are, and this couldn’t have been clearer before the release of the eleven-track album. ‘….hero with a hashtag, and acres of fear” paints this image of a figure we are becoming all too familiar with seeing. The album feels a direct attack on those who are spreading negative cultural trends, embracing racist tendencies and ease of access to communicate ideologies. Through Gutless we see stereotypes broken and challenged not by the academics and politicians that we are so used to seeing it from, but rather four blokes that you can imagine finding at the pub. It’s a series of truths from a voice that is never heard.
Sonically, the album is the rougher side of approachable. It’s an album that you could sink more than a few beers to, with raucous riffs, steady drum patterns, and more than enough anthemic chant backs. It’s an album that takes all the essence of the quartets live show, and turns it into a new beast. What it loses in other people’s sweat and beers spilling on your shoes, it offers up in things to discuss. Only for a few key moments does the album make an open standing on political or cultural issues, but there is that strong odour of dissatisfaction.
Title track, Gutful, opens strong and bold. It is here that the standings of Bad//Dreems comes flaring up. “Had a gutful of your racist jokes, had a gutful of your speed and coke” Ben Marwe sings, before continuing to nail down on Australia Day, Donald Trump and the credit crunch. Simple lyrics express the frustrations felt by many, but coloured in the textures and accessibility of a seasoned speaker. Each and every track has this urgent energy behind it, that encourages you to pay more attention. The focus points, are those that many are too sick of hearing about. No more do we want to hear about Trump on newspapers and through our Facebook feeds, there is a desire for real conversation and that is what Bad//Dreems are offering in this album. They aren’t here to discuss the finer points, or tell you how to think, but rather through the use of their almost recklessly enjoyable music seek to challenge the listener to make an opinion and hold by it.
For all the frustrations found in Gutful it isn’t piece that is defined by them. 1000 Miles Away offers a rare touch of open emotion in Marwe’s voice, the tones of heart break and disappointment highlighted by the jangly guitar work that stands so boldly against the rest of the album. It follows the themes of the earlier By My Side. They act as sobering moments in a frustration fuelled world and album. The ballad like format exposes a new side of Marwe, and one that is easy to forget about behind the hype around the bigger bolder tracks. That this side is so easy to neglect, makes each listen that little more exciting. A similar effect occurred with Hume and My Only Friend on their debut Dogs at Bay. It’s remarkably easy to write Bad//Dreems off as another band made for dingy pub band rooms, and in many ways it seems that this is still the best way to enjoy the group, but there is a feeling of experience coming through. Bad//Dreems are growing up, and becoming more balanced in doing so. Of course, this is almost contradicted with the very next track. Nice Guy drips so heavily in irony. Mocking the idea of “people say that I’m a real nice guy” and the lack of value that the phrase contains. The horrific reality of what can be said about someone who is so far from is highlighted in the piece, and it comes across as a plea for help. The characters created in Gutful are so sparsely described, yet every track brings a real person to mind. As you listen to Nice Guy, or Johnny Irony it is hard not to have real life associates come to mind. Bad//Dreems take utilise their lyrics in a manner that screams more intelligence than one would ever expect on first listen.
As Gutless comes to a close, things mellow out. It becomes evident at this point, that it’s an album that goes beyond the lyrics, or the guitar riffs. It’s an album that encourages thought and consideration, and where you stand. It’s not telling listeners to put their beer down and change their ways, rather to have a discussion with their mates about values and how they want to be seen. For if the album reveals anything, it’s that the we all have built up frustrations but few are willing to act on them productively.
You can catch Bad//Dreems on the road for a number of shows around the country:
Thursday, June 8th | Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
Friday, June 9th | The Metro, Sydney
Saturday, June 10th | The Corner, Melbourne
Friday, June 16th | Badlands, Perth
Saturday, June 17th | The Gov, Adelaide
Saturday, July 22nd | Splendour in the Grass
Tallest kid at every gig // Questionable dancer at best // twitter/instagram: ayds_on_toast