Adelaide based “outsider rock” band Bad//Dreems’ eagerly anticipated sophomore LP has just dropped. Written, created and produced over the past year, ‘Gutful’ is the product of a tumultuous world which chooses to not shy away from addressing the environment it was conceived in. The album boldly captures the anger, fear, and frustration felt by so many with just a hint of adolescent angst, making it at once familiar and instantly relatable. Despite being created during a time of intense change, the defiant lyrical and musical attitude which has come to define the four-piece outfit steers the album away from pessimism, suggesting the potential to change and grow as a society.
The bouncy, garage-rock guitar lines of the grungy opening track “Johnny Irony” sets the scene perfectly for the entirety of the album. With mischievous lyrics mourning the weekly grind and heralding the glory of the weekend, the track challenges authority and just generally sticks it to the man. “Mob Rule” is an unmistakable call to action aimed at anyone who will listen whilst lyrically delving deep into the Australian psyche, tackling racist attitudes with a hit of nostalgia for adolescence. Ben Marwe’s angsty vocal work elicits a disturbing picture of a modern Australian dystopia encapsulated by the irrationality and violence of an angry mob – it’s a warning, and a timely one at that. Similarly, the album’s title track “Gutful” is explicit in its message, both lyrically and musically, that enough is enough. The repetitive refrain, “Had a gutful of” pre-empts a slew of current burdens on society including “Australia Day”, “The USA” and “Donald Trump”. It’s a true rock track packed full of political opinions, angry guitar riffs, and disgusted lyrics.
Slower tracks on the album “Nice Guy” and “Pagan Rage” tackle other huge issues such as male violence, chauvinistic attitudes, and religion. The lyrics to “Pagan Rage” are dripping in irony, so much so that it becomes almost comical, despite the underpinning commentary on the inherent seriousness of highlighting individuals who excuse their actions on the basis of religiosity. This criticism of society is not expressed only lyrically, but also musically. The use of fresh, beachy guitar lines, with softer, more tender vocals, deceptively lulls the listener into what would seem like a respite from the album’s heavier tracks. However, the deliberately calm nature of “Pagan Rage” serves only to mask the very dark and hard-hitting lyrical matter, just as the guise of religion is used to mask greater issues.
So if you, as many others had, pigeon-holed Bad//Dreems as simply “pub rock”, you are very mistaken. ‘Gutful’ undoubtedly proves they are not to be taken so lightly, although they are still probably best enjoyed with a beer in hand.
Bad//Dreems sophomore LP ‘Gutful’ is out now. You can stream the album below: