Like an echo from a bygone era of British alt-rock halcyon, comparable to being the bastard sons of Reuben and Idlewild, Croydon trio Bad Sign have come to be known for demonstrating an unquestionable flare for catchy song writing. Their debut album, Live & Learn, is absolutely no exception to this moniker – it’s a driving sonic piston lubricated liberally with artistic integrity and conviction in ones beliefs.
Produced at The Ranch Studio by Neil Kennedy, Live & Learn is tonally luscious, emitting a deceptively gargantuan sound for such a simple set up of a band. Vocalist Joe Appleford demonstrates a command of a wide spectrum of vocal tones over the course of the album, akin at times to Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue. When Live & Learn hits hard it really packs a punch, and moving into the deeper cuts at the tail end of the album, the band display an artistic maturity and musical flexibility that paints them as a band far beyond their formative years.
All that being said, a number of the tracks in the listing do feel a little formulaic at times. While the proverb “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” is perfectly applicable here, as each song is incredibly accomplished in it’s own merit, thinking back over the record it can be difficult to pinpoint standout moments, as a considerable number of them bleed into one. It should be mentioned that this is far more applicable to the more brutish elements of the album, as while the riffs are abrasive and driving, they rarely break the mould (there are exceptions, the jagged ending to midway marker Closure being a great example).
Overall, the band have produced an enigmatic, accomplished debut record, that looks set to see them someday parading in the pantheon of cult British rock that is so often revered. Some sanding down around the edges may be required, but all the evidence that Bad Sign have the potential to become an innovative, intelligent pinnacle of Britain’s budding alternative soundscape is presented here.
FFO: Idlewild, Mallory Knox, Rueben.