From the opening chant of “Nobody wants me at home / Nobody loves me at all / I will be dying alone,” to the closing chant of “These nights are long but they are keeping me from my awful dreams and my cynical thoughts” on the opening song ‘Willoughby”, it is obvious that Bad Luck is not afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve.
Cold Bones thunderously opens with the aforementioned “Willoughby”. As with any opening track on a debut album, the song aims at showcasing what the band sounds like –trying to hook you. Bad Luck shows both their aggressive side and their slightly softer side (although with the energy in their music, it is hard for them to be soft), delivering both aggressively angry lyrics like “My friends are the same / my fucking friends are the same” and cathartic lyrics like “I break down in the front of an old parking lot/ and get up when I’m done / I’ll get up when we’re done.”
There is no denying that Bad Luck seems to draw influences from the early 2000s pop-punk/emo movement where the two genres had rather blurred lines and often delivered cathartic lyrics about leaving their hometown, or relationships, or their friends. Yet at the same time, they draw musical inspiration from the hardcore punk movement with chugging guitar riffs, off-beat drumming and often shouted vocals – and let us not forget the rhythmic chanting of lyrics in background. One could roll their eyes and say: “Oh. We’ve heard bands like this before.” There is truth in that statement, yet bands that are this genuine are few and far between.
In recording Cold Bones, Bad Luck actually re-recorded the entire album when Tragic Hero Records approached them. They had already recorded a version of Cold Bones but were not happy with the the album. “We’ve come to consider the first ‘Cold Bones’ almost like recorded pre-production, and we feel the re-release truly represents these songs and our band,” says Dominick Fox. “Evan [Blaine] and I both got the flu when we were recording the first release, because we recorded it in New Jersey in the winter and slept in our van in the parking lot across from the studio every night. This time, we both felt, and we think we ended up sounding, the best we ever have vocally. And we feel it truly sounds the way we do live.”
It is that kind of genuine spirit that is ever-so present on the album. You can feel that they put everything they had into the album. The vocals are positively scorching. The vocal trade-offs between a rather harsh melodic sound to practically screaming and shouting are almost seamless and also contribute to the aggressive nature of Bad Luck’s music. A truly brilliant example of this is “Threat Level Midnight”, which kicks off with a raw melodic sound before progressing into aggressive mayhem with chugging guitar riffs, crashing drums, screeching vocals and sheer passion. It tackles how hard they were working before they started the band – and especially how hard they worked to get the band started. You can feel the passion and the love that they have for one another.
Lyrically, it is nothing unique although that is not the point. Sure, they deliver almost precisely the same lyrics as most pop-punk bands but it is the energy that Bad Luck has. The fact that they re-recorded the album because they weren’t happy with it points to their authentic brilliance. Where most bands would deliver lyrics like this from behind four chord riffs, Bad Luck delivers it from behind a wall of sonic aggression and it still remains incredibly catchy. There are times when they stray to a slightly softer song, such as on “Lantern Park”.
If there is one pop-punk album you have to buy this year, it would be Cold Bones. Bad Luck manages to put a unique twist on a dying genre and delivers catchy songs in the most aggressive way possible. You’ll be chanting the choruses while being moved by the lyrics. Despite their name, Bad Luck’s luck will be looking up for them with this album.