Toronto natives BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) have released their third studio album, III. Although this is the jazz/hip-hop trio’s third album, in many ways this is an album of firsts for the group. Unlike their previous releases that were littered in covers of artists as varied as James Blake to Gucci Mane, this album comprises completely of the bands original compositions. This could be the reason behind another difference in the album, BBNG have decided to actually charge people money this time, whereas for their previous records they did not. This may present a seeming lack of worth; the band’s name itself suggests a lack of esteem in their ability. However, BBNG in actuality have every reason to be confident, for on III they jump from the shoulders of the musicians they previously covered to their own new heights.
The opening track Triangle is familiar and reminiscent of the best moments of 2012’s release BBNG2 but by the start of the second track Can’t Leave the Night one can begin to feel the band’s transition to an unfamiliar territory. The DJ Shadow-esque keys build behind frantic drums that give way to a throbbing bass line and we begin to see the group’s full potential.
BBNG’s love of the jazz genre comes through on smooth tracks like Differently, Still but the majority of numbers on this release are prone to a more trip-hop oriented sound such as the electronic, brooding and dubby CS60. Guitar riffs reminiscent of Interpol colour Eyes Closed, while Hedron builds a complex soundscape as BBNG meld their jazz capabilities with the sensibilities of their influencers to a pleasing effect.
Admittedly some of these experimentations work better than others with Since You Ask Kindly being unequal to the sum of its parts. However, in the end this is a great album with strong emotion and purpose, an achievement more worthwhile as a band with no vocalist. III should be commended as a first experimentation in an already experimental genre, creating the impression that these talented young men will not return to the safety of covers in the future.
Words by Richard Heftie