Kevin Devine and Andy Hull have done their homework. They’ve studied early, influential indie rock with a careful eye. Devine has been doing his folk/acoustic thing forever, and Hull fronts Manchester Orchestra, a band with its feet firmly rooted in pop rock and roll. Their combined efforts equal Bad Books.
Bad Books’ last record, II, is wise beyond its years; capturing the pop-gleam of the New Pornographers, the fragility of Built To Spill, and the quirkiness of Weezer before their lame years. Bad Books may be a side project, but the energy of II feels like a full time gig. Hull channels his inner Jim James beautifully on “Pytor”, while “Friendly Advice” does its best to tread Doug Martsch waters. Comparisons aside, Bad Books works because of the savvy songwriting of Hull and Devine. Wordplay is center stage, flanked by subtle riffs, and a solid rhythm section.
Grab II on iTunes for ten bucks. It’s a worthy listen, even if only to pick out the moments when the band is doing their best impersonations of indie rock icons.