Bad Books: Bad Books

Bad Books: Bad Books
Indie rock super groups happen, but not as often as hip hop super groups. Bad Books is not exactly what I would think of when I think of indie rock super groups anyway. The duo consists of singer/songwriter Kevin Devine and The Manchester Orchestra songwriter Andy Hull. The duo came together from sheer boredom during time off from touring and in that time managed to record their debut self-titled album.
The record really echos the sentiment that these are two individual song writers who are coming together to record an album. It is painfully obvious who wrote what song on the album. Devine’s contributions are often stripped-down songs that sound like Hull are not even on the track. “You’re a Mirror I Cannot Avoid” is basically just Kevin Devine with his guitar singing. I can honestly not tell what Hull did on the recording. The last half-minute of the song features a little keyboard, perhaps that was Hull’s sole contribution to the track?
On the other hand, there is a handful of songs that have a much luster band-feel; these tracks are the real star of Bad Books. My favorite track is “Holding Down the Laughter”. The track sounds like the upbeat fare from Death Cab for Cutie but with more cowbell. The track also features a little lead guitar that is reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. Unfortunately, the album does not contain too many J Mascis-esque guitar parts.
The album does contain enough full band tracks to make it formidable but it features too many solo acoustic songs from Devine to be great. The album feels like a Devine driven project rather than collaboration between two equally talented singer/songwriters. In the end, Hull really shines on his contributions but Devine’s presence is often so heavy handed it overshadows Hull.
Rating: 6.3/10
MP3: Bad Books “Holding Down the Laughter”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!