Better guys. Much, much better.
See, I’m on record as having found the last couple of albums from Bad Touch decidedly uneven. So when I tell you that Kiss The Sky represents a marked improvement, I ain’t kidding.
Bad Touch are a party band at heart. When you see them live, you know that they pour themselves into everyone having a good time. I’m pleased to be able to say that this time around the Norfolk rockers have managed to channel that energy into a much more consistent collection of songs. And hey, you can’t really dislike a band who throw themselves into a
|Bad Touch - Do they share the same wardrobe?
Pic by Will Ireland
There’s plenty of raucous rifferama of course, kicking off with the opener ‘Come A Little Closer’, which is propelled along by pumping bass from Michael Bailey and big drums from George Drewry, while huge, gritty guitar chords crash around like falling masonry, with a catchy chorus and a scudding slide solo to boot. And there’s lots more where that came from, not least on the meaty, beaty, big and bouncy title track, where between them the guitars of Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings crank out rock solid chords studded with a rolling lead refrain, and the guitar solo is a howling beast built on an ascending theme. Or on ‘Before I Die’, which opens with a nagging, spiky guitar riff over a thudding bass drum, and displays some rapid-fire lyrical delivery by Stevie Westwood, as well as a sharp, stinging solo that fits the bill nicely. Or there’s ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’, which belies its title by being brief and to the point, with more slide guitar skating over the top of a smart, twiddly guitar riff, while its appealing hook is again given an extra sheen by well-arranged female backing vocals.
But they also show a good grasp of dynamics on the likes of ‘Strut’, where their Black Crowes influences show through. It may originate in a fuzzy, staccato riff like a bumble bee repeatedly banging its head off a window, but the pre-chorus slows things down nicely. Then some competing vocal lines add another level of interest, and a brief but tasty guitar solo looks out at wider horizons. ‘See You Again’ shows even more maturity on the writing front, eases in with mellow acoustic guitar and dappled by piano, to embark on a sensitive elegy to a lost friend. It’s a good tune all round, elevated by an excellent bridge that even makes good use of string sounds, ahead of a tasteful, fitting guitar solo. ‘Can You Save Me’ also conjures up light and shade in a manner that hints at Bad Company, with rippling guitar lines, some waves of organ in the background methinks, and a middle eight and guitar solo that introduce some subtle, clever shifts in direction.
Best of all perhaps, is the way they close out with ‘Something About Your Kiss’, which nods deeply in the direction of Fleetwood Mac á la ‘The Chain’, with spangly guitar floating around while Westwood uncoils an attractive melody, before they change gear into a big epic finish with lead guitar work weaving around the vocal to good effect.
This is the album that finds Bad Touch starting to fulfil their potential. Their Southern rockisms may not yet show the originality of The Temperance Movement, but then that’s setting the bar pretty high. And I could wish that Stevie Westwood were allowed the room to breathe a little more, rather than having to force his vocals up to 11 so often. But hey, on Kiss The Sky they still get it on from start to finish, baby. As the Faces put it, I had me a real good time.
Kiss The Sky is released by Marshall Records on 19 June, and can be ordered from www.badtouchkissthesky.com