A melee of post-punk ideas, but jammed together fairly naively.
Adam Kennedy 2009
A veritable thesis in the last-gang-in-town mentality, few would dispute that fast-rising Essex foursome Baddies have their conceptual image nailed with cocksure cohesion. Their debut album, frustratingly, can’t quite match those consistent idealisms and almost communist conformity to uniformed dress sense.
Equal parts Kraftwerk, Franz Ferdinand, Rocket From the Crypt and A Clockwork Orange’s dead-eyed droogs, it’s not so much that Baddies throw the proverbial excrement at the wall hoping some won’t end in a foul puddle on the floor. More they skim so many bases it’s often tricky to spy which target they are even aiming toward.
The Futureheads’ wired post-punk strut, Queens Of The Stone Age’s sweetly damaged melodies, even echoes of post-Cramps rockabilly; the quartet, led by twin brothers Michael and Jim Webster, evoke all the aforementioned, occasionally within a solitary song.
Granted, among the melee of ideas – which if nothing else embellishes their native Southend’s burgeoning reputation as the UK’s most scorching hot sonic foundry – there are moments where Baddies consolidate a sound very much their own.
The paranoid I Am Not a Machine is particularly potent, Michael Webster ranting “They want to put a chip in the back of my neck” as his charges reassemble the riff from At The Drive-In’s One Armed Scissor with treble set to maximum. Colin, too, is chock with giddy thrills, purportedly inspired by the twins’ drug-guzzling brother, definitely replete with undercurrents of Supergrass at their heaviest.
Witness the word-cramming chorus of At the Party, however, and the focus has switched alarmingly, revisiting the arse-end of post-punk where a dodgy new romantic whiff permeated. All of a sudden ‘the job’ referenced in the album title could be ghostwriting for Spandau Ballet or Duran Duran.
That faux pas is countered slightly by the loose-hipped indie disco-filling potential of single Open One Eye and We Beat Our Chests, swaggering sufficiently to necessitate name-checking The Hives. Except where the Swedish party-starters catalysed countless lazy pay-off lines about your new favourite band, Baddies are half a dozen of your old favourites jammed together with all the congruity of a toddler completing a jigsaw puzzle.