Album Review: BADBADNOTGOOD - IV

BADBADNOTGOOD - IV

In a pursuit of the new, jazz-via-hip-hop group BADBADNOTGOOD sometimes struggle to piece together their grand-scoped adventures.

Rating:

There isn’t another remix quite like Toronto group BADBADNOTGOOD’s spin on Future Islands’ ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’. Arriving at a point where the song’s popularity was at a peak - Samuel T. Herring’s dance moves a verified meme - they managed to invent something entirely new; a cross between Tarantino soundtracks and a cowboy film stand-off. Some remixes can be seen a mile off, but you could ask a thousand aspiring producers to take on the original - no version would sound remotely like this.

BBNG are masters at repurposing the old into something shiny and unrecognisable. For years, they’ve represented a hybrid of jazz and hip-hop, but their music stampedes into other strange territories. ‘IV’ is their first album to feature guest collaborators, but it isn’t a fully-realised trip towards the mainstream. In fact, the quartet are harder to pin down than ever.

The album’s moody, slow-burning opening trio of songs are simple enough to digest. Samuel T. Herring gives thanks to that 2014 remix by appearing on ‘Time Moves Slow’. There’s a solemn mood to each song, but invention lines every seam. Jolting piano notes, darting clarinets, a lifetime supply of saxophone - it’s all there.

From that jump-off point however, ‘IV’ is a fidgety troublemaker, an erratic beast that’s impossible to tame. The Charlotte Day Wilson-featuring ‘In Your Eyes’ contains featherlight acoustics and isn’t a far cry from early Amy Winehouse, soul splintering off into new worlds. The title-track is deranged sax on repeat, the most pure jazz BBNG have ever sounded. A beat-led experiment with Kaytranada, ‘Lavender’, is an ominous, cinematic respite from the surrounding madness.

There’s not a great deal tying these songs together, aside from BBNG’s pursuit of the new. Collaborations aren’t here to generate headlines or set pulses racing - each serves its own noble purpose. Taken on their own, each track solidifies the group’s wild imagination, but ‘IV’ is tough to stomach as the free-flowing, full-bodied juggernaut that it is.

‘Times Moves Slow (feat. Samuel T. Herring)’