Snappy Little Numbers make some snappy packaging. Cover art, one-sided vinyl and specialty colors shouldn’t drive musical decision-making but, let’s face it, in the digital era it definitely makes a difference when you pick up a record that stands out from the pack. And as an uncle who has spent a lot of time watching Ninjago and making internal judgments that it’s basically the modern toy line version of G.I. Joe, well…this Bad Year record was all too eye-catching.
Bad Year is a Denver pop-punk band with a lot of familiar faces from previous bands. The voices sound a lot like fellow Denverites BlackDots but as far as I can tell, I don’t think they share members – just sonic elements. They do, however, have current and former members of Down By Law, Spells, My Pal Trigger, The Manxx, and a whole bunch more.
In other words, the band is experienced. It shows in the arrangements, which utilize simple less-is-more songwriting with flourishes in just the right spots to give it that extra kick. The guitars are often repetitive, setting the tone for vocal harmonies that push the songs into the next gear. It’s somewhat choppy, working in contrast to group vocals and trade-offs that lay a smooth surface over a rougher base.
Personal favorites on this 6-song EP include “Here, Hold My Cake,” which is a peppy number with some super melodic flow in the lead vocals and a nice guitar and rumbling bass to pull it all together. It’s heart on its sleeve music with an endearing vulnerability, somewhere between the previously mentioned BlackDots and a classic Lookout Records accessibility. Another standout is “Big Sexy (A Tribute),” right after it. While I’m not sure if the song is about the ageless Bartolo Colon or not, the guitar/bass combo rolls into another emotional and introspective jam that changes directions when the bouncy chorus and vocal trade-offs begin. The song is only 3:39 and it gets a little repetitive by the end, though, which is probably were the band falters on My Escape. It’s generally heartfelt and smooth punk, but sometimes the songs get a little repetitive in those rhythms. Because of the oft-repetitive guitar parts, the songs tend to hit harder when the bass throws a little bit of a new wrinkle into the structure.
But enough about that. You’re really just reading to hear what I think of Ninjago, right? Stay tuned next week. It’s a cliffhanger.
7.6 / 10
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