III doesn’t waste any time. The soft yet powerful first song, ‘Wheel Well,’ doesn’t even reach 3 seconds before it sends Kevin Devine’s vocals your way. It’s certainly one of the most interesting songs on the album lyrically with the perfect mix of angst but somehow also hope that can make anyone reminiscing about the glory days when bands like Manchester Orchestra and Brand New were touring together.
“No one’s alone or it’s the one thing we are/Beasts with big brains, computers with hearts/ Obsessed with control, or frightened and power starved It will get you so far” -Wheel Well
Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra also used to tour a lot together in those days when emo ruled so it’s refreshing to see a friendship that sparked something as unique as Bad Books. With III being a testament to how these artists have grown to only produce even better music with a fresh style even after an already successful music career separately.
Although their new album pulls you in quickly, the entire journey is a slow and calm one. Moving from song to song each with a different feeling than the next but somehow still unified in its execution. Many have stated that this album has a Simon & Garfunkel style to it, which is clear. However, it would be unfair to not give Bad Books a round of applause for also somehow capturing newer indie-folk artist vibes like that of Conor Oberst but cleaner. The middle of III, particularly ‘Lake House’ and ‘Neighborhood’ are two excellent examples of this deep thinking folk music that so many can relate to.
When I asked to speak about it/ You made it real easy for me/ Just because we have a baby/ Doesn’t mean that you belong to me -Lake House
The record touches on hard topics like spirituality, death, heartache, pain, and love. All of which are written in ways that resemble the characteristic of many discussions of today’s world but while also exploring thoughts of the future. It helps create this album atmosphere that is excellent to enjoy over coffee in the morning and help you prepare for you the tough conversations ahead of you in the day.
‘Left Your Body’ is an emotionally tough song that could be interpreted many ways although it appears to be about losing a loved one and what type of selfish thoughts cross our minds when faced with situations that make us look at death a bit closer.
We were sitting there nervous trying to keep our eyes from making contact/ You were laying there looking worse than you had looked the previous Sunday -Left Your Body
A lot of this album could be read as poetry although it wouldn’t be as enjoyable without the soft melodies that this trio has cooked up. ‘Left Your Body’ is no exception to that. To cover a specific pain and struggle like losing a loved one is a difficult task but this song feels genuine and explores both the feelings of those gone and those left behind without pushing it too far.
The last song is no exception to the poetic nature of this album. ‘Army’ plays out an interesting scene blending imagery of war and home together and the struggles of coping with what life has handed you.
Simply put, III is an excellent album that Bad Books fans have been waiting for 7 years. If you’re already a fan of Bad Books and II, you might find yourself hearing a different sound this time but it certainly won’t disappoint. We’ve all changed a lot in the last 7 years and with Bad Books, there’s a lot for them to catch us up on.
Recently I’m working on myself/Starting to convince myself it helps/ There’s nothing wrong with being alive -Army