Bad Vibrations – ‘Black Train’

Review by Andrew Patterson

With the release of their first proper full-length, this murky Halifax three-piece have crystallized their most vital ideas and turned them into a mesmerizing batch of songs. Bad Vibes are a strange breed: too sophisticated and spacey to be passed off simply as punk, and too brash to be considered merely psychedelic.

They are a centaur of sorts: a brooding kind of horsepower reigned in by humanistic sentimentality.

In a brisk thirty-five minutes, Halifax’s stalwart sons KC Spidle and Evan Cardwell (the duo responsible for the depressive, defunct Husband & Knife and the concurrently badass, astrology-obsessed Air/Fire) and drummer Meg Yoshida turn over every rock and rock through every turn and twist. Whether they’re unleashing staccato powerchord punishment on ‘Growing’ or making spaced-out space on the meditative title track, they do so with an air of surety.

The most singular example of their penchant for pitch-perfect nuance and cocksure relentlessness is ‘Void’. The bulk of the song is a venomous four-on-the-floor punk anthem bolstered by Yoshida’s precision drumming. The lyrics concern themselves with that clichémoment when a significant other says “I feel like I don’t know you anymore”. Instead of a snarly, reactionary response or a lover’s lament (sentiments too typical for Bad Vibes), Spidle turns reflective: “You say you don’t know me/But baby, if that’s true/then who do you know?”. As existentialism creeps it’s way into the song, the chorus splits in two and all three members join in a chorus of “Out of this world/and into the void”in hypnotic half-time.

Ultimately, Black Train succeeds because Bad Vibrations know how to serve their songs; a gift that seems to come naturally. They manage to pack an impressive amount of subtly into a heavy, menacing album without it ever feeling coddled or contrived. Bad Vibrations have found their footing on this release, and rather than stand satisfied, they’ve pushed their way to the front of the pack with a chin-up confidence.