Album Review: Bad Moves—’Untenable’

Posted: by The Editor

Washington, DC has had a rich punk history, documented by the vast array of bands on labels such as Dischord Records and Teen-Beat Records. Although they’re signed to Don Giovanni Records of New Brunswick, NJ, Bad Moves is more than capable of kicking as much ass as those that preceded them. Hitting the scene with a S/T EP in 2016, followed their first full-length, Tell No One, in 2018, Bad Moves has proved themselves unafraid of throwing gleeful pop-punches to your head like “Cool Generator” and “Out of Reach”. Now, Emma Cleveland, David Combs, Katie Park, and Daoud Tyler-Ameen have returned with Untenable, their sophomore record, and although it isn’t leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, it is still a very satisfying follow-up with a wide-ranging sound.

The opener, “Local Radio” whips up energy with bass and drums before the vocals and guitar enter, creating a sense of joyous fury, like fighting with a smile. It finds a companion in the later track “Working for Free”, which sees the band even more righteously pissed. Songs like “Night Terrors” and “Toward Crescent Park” are pieces of power-pop brilliance, with equal parts melody and ferocity in instrumentation and very tuneful vocals. Other songs like “Party With the Kids Who Wanna Party With You,” “Muster,” and “Tides” continually grow in intensity, going full blast by their conclusion. The end of “Tides” suddenly shrinks into minimal instrumentation until the power that was once so growing is now gone.

“Cape Henlopen” shows a quiet-load dynamic on the verses and chorus, but “Some Bad Friends” lands right in the middle, maintaining a consistent, restrained intensity in sound that is neither overbearing nor near absent. “Fog is a Funny Thing” is a sonic left turn, with a hazy intro complementing the title with violin, minimal guitar accompaniment, and light cymbal washes before bursting into Bad Moves’ familiar punk. “Settle Into It,” true to its title, is laid back and almost soothing, rocking like leaves floating on streams of water, where the singers seek hope. The album’s final song, “End of Time,” despite the lyrics describing an unsure separation, sounds terrifically optimistic, positive that they’re still having a good time and closing out the album on a satisfyingly joyous tone. 

Bad Moves is a wonderfully unpretentious band. Their music and lyrics are by no means simple, but they don’t require any sort of heavy literature or theory to wrap your head around, which is refreshing when some tend to place too much emphasis on complexity. Bad Moves is just a band from DC, with great tunes to play and things to say. They’ve got power, they’ve got pop, and they’ve got punk, and they use it to great advantage. Sometimes, that’s all you really need. 

Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great / Phenomenal

David A. Gutierrez | @dagewts

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