If you don’t include frontwoman Julie Christmas, then this is essentially the return of American noise-influenced rockers Made Out Of Babies. The New York four-piece called it a day earlier in the year because of musical differences with their ex-singer, but they have returned with a new vocalist in Megan Tweed from experimental electro rockers The Family Curse.
‘Bad Powers’ is a rockier and at times a post-punk prospect with pop charm that isn’t as invasively doomy as Christmas’ work with Battle Of Mice or as intimidatingly sludge-charged as Made Out Of Babies. Former singer Christmas had a voice that was unpredictable with a possibility to belt out immediately into an unrelentingly neurotic scream, triggering tingles that travel the full length of the spine. But for the new direction that Bad Powers have carved, fresh vocalist Tweed fits the bill. In verses, her voice has a more straight-forward spoken quality to it compared to the strange rasp that Christmas had, and that will work for a lot of people who found the former vocalist a bit too unconventional. Shifting from a lulling Siouxsie & The Banshees-type charm to a grungy post-hardcore yelp, the singer sits well alongside Bad Powers’ instrumentation.
‘New Bruises’ is the post-metallic opener with off-beat percussion and Tool-esque axe-work. It’s an apt introduction to Tweed’s vocals, being one of the highlights for her on the record – charismatically engaging us with anti-melodious whelps behind the Neurosis-influenced chorus. Bad Powers still have that Jesus Lizard influence there, but it’s not quite as elaborately noisy as Made Out Of Babies. The band have opted for different ideas, usually introducing elements that are often easier on the ear. ‘Chineseish’ best shows this, breaking the album up nicely with a gloomy PJ Harvey acoustic vibe before album finisher ‘Bread And Butter’ signs off this Bad Powers debut with a symphony of violin accompanying a dreamy pop charm of minimalist rock riffs and sequenced hypnotic bass.
Bad Powers have set a new statement of intent. They’re not as intently bruising as Made Out of Babies, but their finer subtleties aren’t exactly a negative aspect to behold.
Bad Powers is out now on The End.
You’ll like this if… you’d look for the key before bashing the door down.