Reviews Big Black Delta BBDLP1

Big Black Delta

BBDLP1

How the hell do you take a genre as overworked as pop music and make it interesting? If your name happens to be Jonathan Bates, then you do this “by purposefully doing everything slightly wrong.” The result is his debut album, Big Black Delta's BBDLP1.

This stems mainly from Bates's insistence on mixing styles in ways that don't always make sense. The single “Capsize” combines lazily plodding dance music with slashing work in the string section. “Dreary Moon” takes the traditional rock ballad form and makes it much more ethereal. Especially towards the end of the album, Bates seems to drop any pretence of a pop album entirely in favour of blatant genre-mixing. “PB3” forays into drone and “Roost” is a gospel track modified beyond recognition. “Put the Gun on the Floor” is probably the most straightforward track on this album, and even that strays significantly out of the norm, combining heavy, industrial 4/4 songwriting with massively distorted vocals, tipsy leads, and slightly-out-of-phase backing.

Bates is certainly still a master of the pop music form. In fact, “IFUCKINGLOVEYOU” may just be the best fucking pop song I have ever heard. Everything about it feels like the perfect song to dance to, from the strong 4/4 beat to the inescapable melodies. Yet there is definitely something different about it—the vocals are too large, the melodies feel slightly out of tune, and the lyrics are nigh indiscernible. Bates brings his otherwise-agreeable music just enough out of the comfort zone to be engaging, adding just enough challenge without losing his accessibility.

I would point out how silly this album is, what with its rampant obsession with UFO mythology and giving stylistic consistency the finger, but Bates is just too damn sincere. When he sings about what I can only guess is his love with a prostitute, he really does seem to be sincerely moved that “She told me she loved me / and she gave me my money back.” In fact, “Huggin & Kissin” has some of the best lyrics on the album, even with it's hilarious refrain of “You're the best I can do / You're the best I can do...” Even when he makes his way into the token love song, you can tell that he really means it when he says “I fucking love you! I fucking love you! I do...”

I don't have much of a taste for pop music. It's honestly rather monumental that BBDLP1 has made me look at a genre I had almost entirely dismissed and think that I might actually be missing out on something. Bates has done something amazing with this record, and has done a service to my musical horizons in doing so. You'd be remiss to pass on this one.

(And though Bates did express his wishes that "...everyone who reads this [press release] gets laid,” the only noticeable difference in my love life was that I began watching the UK version of Skins with another woman. I suppose that counts as getting vicariously laid? Your results may vary.)

8.0 / 10Sarah
See also
bigblackdelta.com/
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8.0 / 10

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Posted Feb. 11, 2013, 8:50 p.m.

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