Bad Statues – Kindness

Bad Statues

The first thing one is likely to notice about the Bad Statues is that they deserve better production. Citing the Chicago band Frisbie as an influence, it is unfortunate that the Bad Statues don’t put as much into their recording process as that band, especially considering the focus on vintage pop sounds that unites these two groups. Where Frisbie takes their cue primarily from bands from the 70s (e.g. Big Star), Bad Statues were shaped primarily from sounds from the 60s. The jangly yet forward tone of the lead guitar and the Stray-Cats-esque vocals are merged with melodic flourishes from the organ/synth. While this formula works well for them because the Bad Statues offer up snarky lyrics instead of emotional depth, I often feel that the band is lapsing into irony. This can really detract from the potential impact of the band. Not that I want to dictate the band’s style; however, when you are going to consciously ape a ‘retro’ sound, it works better when you seem to take what you are doing seriously. The Rock-A-Teens, the Pills, or even the John Spencer Blues Explosion succeed largely because their demeanor demands a suspension of disbelief when it comes to their “authenticity.” Since the Bad Statues do not appear to be playing music that is intentionally theatrical (like the Cramps or Man or Astroman), it makes me think that they are at best still in their infancy as a group, or at worst too lazy to take what they are doing seriously. The hyperbole of their band bio (“innovators of ‘Citrus Trailer Pop;'” “The Shape of Pop to Come”), suggests a flippant attitude rather than a sense of humor.

“Kindness” shows that the band is not all talk, which is kind of frustrating because they seem to hold back their best effort. Rather than just sitting back and enjoying what they were doing, I was continually making a list in my head of what they could have been doing with their talent. The song starts off with a melodic line on guitar that is doubled by a synth and backed by an organ; a sound which has a lounge-music feel bringing to mind Mancini or Morricone but with a little more energy thanks to the drums. After a verse, the guitar and synth mimic and snake around the vocals, slowly building up into a repetition of the initial melodic line. The structure is repeated again, with a little more emphasis and the same melodic line becomes a concise outro. “Kindness” is almost like an extended jingle more than a compact pop song, sounding not unlike a TV theme song.

The impressions of a recording are often misleading, and yet this is often all listeners have to go on. The Bad Statues are yet another band who could be really great in a live setting but whose recording legacy does little to reflect this.