With indie-pop there’s truly a magic to the catchy atmosphere you can produce on a record. Bad Bad Hats however, achieve the pop end of their sound effortlessly and use that accessibility to experiment with great results. From start to finish Bad Bad Hats carve out signature moves left and right while bringing sounds in from handfuls of other genres. As predictable as some moments are here, there’s too much fun in the details to fault them for it.
Between the contagious drum rolls and sublime synth hooks, there’s something that just grips you immediately as the record sets off on “Makes Me Nervous.” Even in the song’s more typical pop moments there’s such an amazing feeling they bring out on every other front that it’s hard to be bothered. With a more biting attitude “Write It On Your Heart” lets out a much more frustrated spirit, and one you can feel in its utterly blown out beat fills. Through its subtle narrative about dishonest love even the low-end bass (which feels more like Foals than the lighter pop they typically do) brings out an emotional depth that’s truly refreshing.
Just as you’re getting caught up in the myriad of memorable riffs on “Get What I Want” that punchy drum hook really just hits with perfect timing. As they prove continuously how powerful their rhythmic focus can make their music, Bad Bad Hats make music that constantly subverts your expectations. Though “1-800” hits a rather simplistic drive early on, it uses this to explore a spacey world in its background work. While it would be easy to drift off listening to this, it’s these small details that really make it a standout listen.
Even as Bad Bad Hats knock out much more predictable pop on something like “Nothing Gets Me High” there’s a sonic range that feels dynamic and out there. This mixed with the angular breaks between sections really makes you want to come back to the song. Similarly the soft-rock undercurrent of “Talk With Your Hands” sets you up to expect a certain kind of song, and its grimy hooks and ramp-up beats will really get you moving. After this, the tension Bad Bad Hats have at their disposal makes each subsequent verse easier to get through.
Their constantly intriguing use of sound and beats takes a fun turn on “Girl” as they create glossy and spacey magic before launching the song into exciting, stomping rock. After this it’s truly a treat to have them send it over the top once again and leave the rest of the song as a quirky mix of all its different sounds. As they sink into more rustic and tender emotional grounds on “Automatic” they take a sharp introspective direction in their tones and effects while letting it speak to how they feel. Bad Bad Hats don’t miss an opportunity to shift sections as distinctly as possible here either, and assure you’ll be having this track running through your head one way or another.
In the alt-country bones of “Absolute Worst” the swaying run of riffs and trippy effects is utterly intoxicating. By finally taking an opportunity to remain a little more subdued, Bad Bad Hats show a maturity and range that keeps things interesting. “365” does this with a much more bizarre and menacing beat crawl, as they slowly ooze out their harmonies to close the album on an ominous note.
Words by Owen Maxwell