Friday, June 28, 2024

The Bad Day - The Irish Goodbye

When a band sounds like they’ve said, “Fuck it, let’s do what the hell we want”, then set about it with a will, and then live up to that spirit of adventure from start to finish – well, wotchya gonna do?  You stand up and applaud, that’s what you do. So get ready to put your hands together for The Irish Goodbye.
Once upon a time of course, they were The Bad Day Blues Band, and pretty vibrant they were too back then.  They still do some rootsy manoeuvres here, and we’ll get to them in a minute. But it’s their personality-laden rock’n’rolling that makes The Irish Goodbye stand out at first blush.
Right from the off, ‘Heartbeat’ grabs you by the short hairs, its ker-thump-thump rhythm living up to the title, reinforced by some crunking chords, Nick Peck then adding some squiggly, scratchy guitar
The Bad Day - that pub doesn't look promising, fellas.
like a cardiogram gone haywire before they plant the simple chorus between your ears.  And then there’s bassist Adam Rigg’s quavering, sometimes whinnying voice, which here - though not everywhere - sounds like David Byrne and brings a distinctive edge to the Bad Day sound.
There’s plenty more where that came from too, especially with the prickle’n’crunch riffing and whomping beat of the simple but irresistible ‘High Maintenance’, with its toothache-nagging verses and ferrety, bleeping guitar break.  ‘Powerless’ with its chugging harp and guitar, belies its title, then joins agitated verses to an anthemic chorus worthy of The Clash – if The Clash had a guitarist like Peck to add some hard rock muscle and a Vocoder-like theme on the bridge, plus Sam Spranger cracking out a squealing harp solo.
There’s some bristling energy on ‘Welcome To The Show’ and ‘No Love For Sale’ too.  The former is a stuttering, harp-seasoned affair with a moan-along section redolent of Zeppelin, sorta, a warped rock’n’roll solo from Peck, and a frenetic, all-hands-on-deck outro.  ‘No Love For Sale' is better though, led by throbbing bass from Rigg while Andrea Tremolada whacks out a quasi-mechanistic beat, contrasting with sweet guitar lines from Peck until the punchy chorus arrives, propelled by dirtier chords.  There are conversational harp and guitar exchanges too, to pique more interest, and a razor-like Peck guitar solo for good measure.
And then there’s the other side of the coin, with songs like the mellow and tender Mr Regret, which gets more rousing as its hero proclaims “My name is Regret, my address is The Past”, embellished by some tootling harp from Spranger.  It’s got a vaguely Celtic feel, and there’s more of that on the plangent, romantic ‘A Long Shot’, with its post-punk vibe and sweetly spiky guitar solo.
‘Old Lovers’ is country music in the same way that Alabama 3 aren’t, with a gently lilting melody, moaning harp remarks and elegiac slide mutterings, leading to a nightingale-like harp solo from Spranger and Peck’s guitar playing around with the melody.  Meantime Rigg’s voice gets all yearning in a Mike Scott of the Waterboys fashion – or maybe Joe Strummer trying to be more tuneful.  There’s a Clash-like quirkiness to ‘Sliding Doors’ too, reminiscent of ‘Jimmy Jazz’ perhaps – offbeat, with chirruping guitar, washes of organ, and a squawking Rigg vocal.
Which just leaves the closing pair of ‘Bag Of Bones’ and the title track ‘The Irish Goodbye’.  ‘Bag Of Bones’ is as rootsy as they get, starting slowly with acoustic chords, harp, and bluesy storytelling, before bursting into rattling country-folk-blues rock’n’roll that’s all ragged charm.  Then ‘The Irish Goodbye’ is a slow affair, opening with sombre piano, and progressing with low slung, melodic bass and moaning harp.  It’s not what you’d call epic in style, but it does explore light and shade, exemplified by a hustling bridge that features soaring harp and alternately growling and scraping guitar.  Peck’s guitar weaves perfectly around the melody as they ramp it up, and then they’re done.
An Irish goodbye is when you leave a party without taking your leave of everyone.  But there’s nothing surreptitious about this third album from The Bad Day.  I enjoyed their second, eponymous outing, but thought its conceptual nature was maybe a bit of a stretch.  Not so with The Irish Goodbye.  This is a cracking album where The Bad Day do what they like and do it damn well.
The Irish Goodbye is out now, and can be ordered here.

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