Hailing from Croydon the three piece Bad Signs have been making waves ever since their 2014 release Destroy, and this time the band are only planning on building to their good name. This debut record Live & Learn promises to be a stacked release filled to the brim with dreamy melodies and angular dynamics, and following on from the release of singles Intermission and Square One it definitely seemed that the record was shaping up that way. But without further ado let’s break down this debut record from Bad Signs.
Opening up this debut record is Liars & Lovers a track which opens up with this strong and powerful instrumentation. There is little to no messing around as this track begins with the band coming into full swing with this well-orchestrated composition. Soon enough the vocals of Joe Appleford come into view and present this extra layer to the bands music, despite it being so early into the album from this complete sound that the Bad Sign present during Liars & Lovers shows not only how much potential the rest of this record has but also just how tight this band are, and how strong they all are instrumentally as the well-orchestrated guitar riff from Johnathan Harris mixes well with the driving beat presented by Kevin Miller.
Coming directly after this strong opener is a duo of tracks which starts with Covenant. This first track yet again showcases the band in a very positive light. The tight and well-orchestrated instrumentation comes powering through from the offset of this track. During Covenant, the band explores a few different dynamics which not only shows the band exploring some softer moments of instrumentation but also towards the tail end of the track flip the tables into vocal melodies and musical moments which are also heavier. The second part of this duo is Square One which brings the band back to a similar sound that had been present on the album’s opener. However, in this track, the drums by Miller are truly the driving force and the part of the band’s instrumentation that sticks out and is particularly memorable during this track.
After this duo of songs, Bad Sign then present a set of four tracks which start with the instrumental cut XX, this instrumental cut is short but does act as a direct follow-on to the first full track in this set of four Intermission, this track is very impressive vocally, with Appleford’s vocals gliding gently atop this track which shows off not only his ability in a concise vocal range but also show how well the band construct their tracks which allow for this what does feel soft but powerful vocal melodies.
The second full track in this set of songs is Closure which is, unfortunately, the band feel a little lackluster in terms of their instrumentation, by no means is this song weak, as its overall makeup is still overly strong, there is just something that during this track makes it fall a little flat and winds it up being the weakest cut off of this record. Following directly on from this is XI the second short instrumental moment that Bad Sign present on this debut record, this one is vastly different to XX being that this is solely synth based and it is a nice break from the full throttle music that has existed up to this point on this record.
Moving on from XI is October, which uses the track before as a short intro before the full track kicks in. October is a far different track than everything that sits before it on the album, as it is in this song that the band flip their dynamic entirely and stay down with this far more relaxed and softer instrumentation. Towards the end of this track there is gentle but eventual build which allows for this big and well-orchestrated ending where the band drops back off for the last few seconds. October is the strongest cut off of Live & Learn in a number of ways, from the tight and well-orchestrated instrumentation to the well choreographed vocal melodies Bad Sign on this track showcase all of their ability in what is a well thought out track.
Following on from this is a trio of tracks which starts off with the song Attrition. This track sees the band continue with this powerful and well-planned instrumentation which showcases not only their innate ability to write cohesive numbers but also to present a song which houses different dynamics and an instinctive bop. The following track Certitude allows the band to experiment more with this heavier instrumentation they had teased in the opening half of this record. The final track in this trio is Immutable which unfortunately at this point is bringing nothing new to the table and despite there being great moments scattered across this track, there is nothing really new to sink the teeth into.
Ending this record Paramnesia, this track is the closest contender for being the strongest cut off of this record, as not only are the vocal performances from Appleford on this track spectacular but also the instrumentation on this cut are second to none with amazing moments from start to finish. During this track, the band present different dynamics and well thought out musical textures which add to the overall feel and power of this track. Overall this track is the perfect closer to this album and ends everything on such a high note, even when the music seems to have this odd drop off to end the album on this short and sweet acoustic moment.
Overall this debut album from Bad Signs is impressive, with little to no dull moments this record is an enjoyable listen start to finish. With great vocal performances and well-orchestrated instrumentation from the beginning to the end of this album, there is something for everyone. This band are definitely one to keep and eye out for at their upcoming shows and this album is one to definitely check out when it drops this month. [8/10]