BADBADNOTGOOD’s earlier albums were more experimental jazz, where as III, kicked them into a realm of possibilities with creative beats, opening up a world of collaboration including the Ghostface Killah partnership Sour Soul. The theme of IV, their latest album is collaboration, but also never loses their instrumental roots.
The first track “And That, Too” is a pure instrumental, showing off saxophonist Leland Whitty who is now officially part of the group and on the cover. “Speaking Gently”, again has no vocals but instead the band uses melodic flourishes in all parts to have conversations with each other. If you were to single out any individual part, their technical playing skills on the album is incredible. One of the greatest examples is the title track IV, with saxophone trills and incredible solos by each player. The band has such great organic chemistry with each other (“Structure No. 4”).
Future Island’s “Sam Herring” croons fit like a glove in “Time Moves Slowly” as the track moves at a dreamy pace. Their exploration into different moods, genres and time periods (which may not always be accessible to younger generation) is applaudable. “Confessions Pt II” features prolific saxophonist Colin Stetson, with Whitty as countermelody in an almost 7 minute track that grows to an insane pace. They band’s goal was never to make songs you can sing along to but rather songs you feel.
Kaytranada lends his production work in “Lavender” in a way that makes it still representative of both projects. “Chompy’s Paradise” sounds like it could be a weird take on a Super Mario theme. The song to the end remains unresolved, always heading somewhere, kind of like chain chomp, is forever tied to a stump. The group returns to hip-hop with the Mick Jenkins collab Hyssop of Love. More rappers should be so lucky to have these boys as their beats. The resulting sound is like a return to the roots of hip hop but remains sounding very 2016.
Already buzzy newcomer Charlotte Day Wilson lends her sultry soul to “In Your Eyes”. The album closes with one more highlight to their incredible playing, “Cashmere”. If there was any band to promote why learning how to play music could be awesome, it would be BADBADNOTGOOD.