Like an increasing number of lesser-known bands, Baddies have released their latest album through Pledge Music, an online service which allows fans of a recording artist to join forces and pay for the recording costs of their latest work. Will the 277 fans that put money into Build be happy with what they’ve paid for?
One of the themes that was prescient on Baddies’ first album Do the Job was the idea of modernity, and the battle between man and machine. Where on their debut frontman Michael Webster was claiming “I am not a machine”, on the first track of Build he instead pleads that “I need rewiring”. Throughout the entire album, the listener is part of the Baddies-created post-industrial mechanical universe.
On ‘Man Made Man’, we see Baddies taking on the task of reinventing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with the chorus repeating “I’m gonna build my very own man-made man”. There is even time for a bit of a gag, with Webster boasting “I stole the eyes from a blind man/He had no use for them anymore!” Despite the occasional jokey lyric and the many sci-fi references, one could write this record off as some novelty piece, but this would be a huge mistake — Build is a serious record.
Musically Build, ahem, builds on the sound of Do the Job, with the same frenetic rock guitar riffs. This time around they are fortified with synthesisers, as most rock bands seem to have done in recent years. Fortunately, it doesn’t come across as a desperate tactic to stay relevant, it just adds to their appeal. ‘Excess Energy’ and ‘Talk to Me Germany’ both stand as examples of the seamless fusion between guitars and synths, blending together as man and machine have.
Some of the tracks are reminiscent of the better work of Kaiser Chiefs, as shoutalong choruses meet spiky guitar riffs. One could also draw parallels with The Wombats in the way that the band seems to use upbeat catchy songs to carry lyrics about not really understanding the world around them. This album seems more disciplined somehow than their debut, and they seem better for being so.
Build is quite a peculiar record in some ways, combining as it does fun, catchy rock songs with a sort of disdain and confusion at the modern world. Baddies are exploding the cliché that fast-paced catchy rock songs have to be brainless.