A lot can happen in just four years’ time. At this time nearly a half decade ago, I was just finishing up my sophomore year of high school. I was working toward getting my driver’s license. Furthermore, the country was one year into Obama’s first term of presidency. Michael Jackson’s untimely passing left the world in shock. The world had zero idea what the word “yolo” meant. However, for Bad Rabbits, the Boston, Massachusetts R&B/funk quintet, not a whole lot has thankfully changed. Sure, after the release of their sophomore EP Stick Up Kids, the band landed themselves on tours with Foxy Shazam, Gym Class Heroes and Common, a full stint on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour, and received production help with their new material from B Lewis. As far as the band’s signature sound goes, however, not much has changed at all. Bad Rabbits is still putting out the same simple, yet ultimately effective funk found on both The Bad EP and Stick Up Kids – and that’s some of the best news that anyone could ever ask for. American Love, the first of two LPs expected from the group, has been a long time coming, sure, but the product that they give us is more than worth the wait.
The infectious repetition of “We Can Roll” starts the record off on a high note. The soft harmonious sounds lead into a thunderous chorus as lead vocalist Dua Boakye’s explosive falsetto sets the mood for the rest of the record. Boakye belts, “We can roll/ we can ride/ we can roll/ just for tonight” with a passion that lets the people know the group is dressed to impress. “We Can Roll” marked the first of four singles that were released to help hype the album up before its May release, all complete with their own assolicious cover art to boot. Though it ended up being the weakest of the set, it still did an excellent job of setting the stage for how the new material would be perceived.
The winner of the singles, however, would have to go to “Can’t Fool Me” or “Doin’ It,” both of which shine for different reasons. The former draws the listener in with excellent bass work from the fantastic Graham Masser and a radio-friendly fizz that’ll make anyone move. “Doin’ It” comparably has an appropriate bouncy vibe that makes for the best flowing track on American Love. That’s not to say that final single “Fall in Love” isn’t without its obvious charms. The song is a trippy odyssey in the mindset of every man, and how the opposite sex can bring them to their knees. The hook is enormous once the chorus kicks in, showcasing one of the undeniable qualities that Bad Rabbits possesses: writing hugely impressive pop songs that are too cool to be overplayed by the mainstream.
The singles aren’t the only praise-worthy moments on the album, however. Some of the brightest moments come from the deep cuts. “Dirty” runs rampant through the streets of fiery NSFW disco, while “Get Up & Go”‘s space-techno intro only further entertains the assumption that the band is out-of-this-world good. Sure, the talkative intro of “Take it Off” may be a little off-putting, but minor flaws aside, there’s not a lot to gripe at when it comes to American Love – its strengths are more than enough to outweigh its imperfections. Given the amount of blemishes found in standard American pop radio, it’s easy to tell that Bad Rabbits is the real deal – a consistent R&B/pop act that genre-jumps without skipping a beat…not to mention one that brings a helluva party that you won’t want to end.
Needless to say, Bad Rabbits is putting the “fun” back in “funk.”
Check Out: “Can’t Fool Me,” “Dirty,” “Doin’ It”
For Those Who Rock:
Rick James’ Street Songs
Earth Wind & Fire’s The Best of Earth Wind & Fire, Vol. 1
Gym Class Heroes’ The Papercut Chronicles II