Bad Books – II
Record Label: Triple Crown Records / Favorite Gentlemen Records
Release Date: October 9th, 2012
In 2010, indie-rock/folk powerhouses Kevin Devine and Andy Hull got together to make some more indie tunes that they’re used to making with their respective bands. Kevin Devine is a very popular solo artist in the genre, and most people know Andy Hull as being the frontman of Manchester Orchestra. In a sense, this is sort of a “supergroup,” but barely. I’m completely new to this band, but not new to these artists, so when I listened to this, I knew what to expect, but at the same time, I didn’t. Ultimately, I was extremely surprised with how much I enjoyed this. It doesn’t sound like a Kevin Devine or Manchester Orchestra cover band, but ultimately, they have their own identity. There’s not much that I haven’t heard before on this album, but coming from Devine, Hull and co., this is quite an interesting album, nonetheless. The album name is merely II and while it’s rather dull, it’s quite forward and to the point.
The album starts off with “The After Party,” and it sets the stage for what’s the album and band is all about. And it should be worth mentioning that both Devine and Hull share lead vocal duties, so this song starts off with Hull’s vocals with a very quiet acoustic guitar riff by guitarist Robert McDowell. Regardless of who is singing it, the lyrics are the most interesting part in this song specifically – In beginning, Hull says, “I hate to be alone.” Throughout the song, he keeps changing his mind, like he’s quite schizophrenic. He hates to be alone, but then he says he needs to be alone. It’s a very interesting song, nonetheless. The next song “No Reward” has Devine taking over lead vocals, and I’ll be honest, I don’t like Kevin Devine as much as Hull, but he’s got a great voice. He’s not as strong as Hull, but they both compliment one another. This song has a different vibe from the first one, and it really shows. Parts of this album do seem like Devine and Hull both combined their bands together to make one band, but at the same time, it doesn’t. I also like how that both vocalists are lead vocalists, but they don’t overshadow one another. They both get their time to shine. Hull had the first track, and Devine’s got the second one, so they both have a turn in the first couple tracks. The rest of the album is where things get interesting.
Third track “Forest Whitaker” is probably my favorite track on the record. It starts out with a very cool keyboard riff, and the song has that electronic vibe all the way through. Honestly, the way I would describe it is cool. This track could easily get radio success if played on modern radio today. It’s a great track, and the first of many highlights on this CD. Fifth track “Pytor” is certainly one of those tracks. It’s another track that Hull takes lead vocal duties on, and it’s a very somber track, but it’s another one of the best tracks on the record, too. The next track “Friendly Advice” is a one-two punch, because it follows the same somber effect, and also it’s sung by Hull. Finally, seventh track “No Sides” has another song sung by Devine. Devine did sing a bit on third track “Forest Whitaker,” but not very much. It’s nice to see another track with him, and he does take the whole song, basically. It’s not the best track, but it’s enjoyable, nonetheless. That’s how I feel about most of this album – there are some songs that are great, and others that are good, but not as great. As a whole, the album is pretty awesome, but it’s not the best album I’ve heard all year. It’s clear that this isn’t just a side project, either.
The last two songs, “Lost Creek” and “Ambivalent Peaks,” are two of my other favorites, aside from “Forest Whitaker,” and “Pytor.” The former is an acoustically driven track with Hull taking vocals. While he does take the reigns for most of the tracks, Devine does get lead vocals on a few, and he’s not overshadowed on any of the tracks he’s in. The latter is a Devine-fronted track, thankfully, and it’s another very slow track. But I feel like these two tracks are connected in some way. The album ends on a very somber note, but it does leave the listener with a nice noise in their ears. Ultimately, it makes me want to keep coming back, because I notice things on the album I didn’t notice on my first listen. Overall, this is a very good album for fans of Devine / Hull, and even for people who aren’t fans, or are just new to the artists themselves.