“Starting Gun” is the debut album from The Bad Flowers due on 16th February 2018, and is the follow up to the self-titled EP from 2016. It shows the journey that the band have been on both in terms of song writing and musicianship. To my mind, there is not a bad track on this album. There is a real diversity showing just how confident and comfortable The Bad Flowers are with each other. Be prepared, as once this album starts playing, you will simply repeat it over and over, without once getting bored. This is the album that everyone should be talking about in 2018.
“Thunder Child” sets the tone for the album, roaring out of the starting blocks with a deep, buzzy bass line that grabs your attention, making it worthy of the Planet Rock rotation it has received. The enormous riff and blistering scream from Tom will be more than enough to put a smile on your face. Dale really knocks himself out with the funky bass line, showing there is more than just rock and blues to The Bad Flowers. Karl’s energetic drumming and Dale’s driving bass line are up front on “Lion’s Blood”. The track is about being brave and not afraid of doing what you want. The skewed riff with the precise heartbeat of the drums beneath give a sense of coming out of confusion and into clarity. The growling nature of Tom’s vocals fits perfectly with the snarling tone that effortlessly rises from his guitar.
Sonorous bass starts off “Secrets,” which is a bit slower than the previous tracks. Tom’s vocals have a sneer, giving you a good clip round the ear. I would say “Secrets” has elements of Rivals Sons; not that it mimics them, but the way in which they construct tracks, allowing the melodies to play and tease each other, keeping you off balance. “Rich Man” builds into a powerful interplay of drums, guitar and bass, each adding another element, soaring into a melee of sound. Then, in a complete about face, we have “I Hope”, which features only acoustic guitar and vocals. Tom’s vocals are intense and emotional, moving effortlessly from breathy into shattered cries of “I hope that you will be loved, like you deserve to be loved”. It got the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and paying attention. This is a beautiful track that I’m sure will get well deserved accolades.
If anyone sees me at a The Bad Flowers gig, I will be the one in tears during “Let’s Misbehave”, it moves me that much, saturated with emotional vibrancy without ever becoming saccharine or a parody. If you want to hear a man who has been through the emotional wringer, listen to the heartache in Tom’s vocal, managing to convey both desperation and grit. Put it on, and lose yourself in the beauty that will surround you. “Who Needs A Soul” brings back the blues rock, showcasing Dale’s mastery of the bass, resonant with funk and groove. This is a track which clamours to be played live, and you know that the crowd will sing the chorus back at full throttle. “Be Your Man” is filled with clashing cymbals and heavy guitar tones, moving along at a frantic pace, but with changes in tempo and drive.
“Hurricane” lives up to its billing of ‘heavy track of the album’. Loads of fuzz, highlighted by shimmers of flamboyant guitar, wrapped up in a thumping great track. Dale’s funky bass kicks “I Don’t Believe It” into existence, and features fierce riffs and a chorus that aches for a crowd to sing along. It was one of the first tracks The Bad Flowers wrote, but is brought up to date here with their new swagger and confidence. “City Lights” is a crowd pleaser at shows, and has been remastered for “Starting Gun”. It is filled with gigantic drumming, sumptuous riffs, and a bass line stuffed with drama. This is balls out rock, filled with bravado and arrogance, epitomising classic hard rock.
The Bad Flowers who have shown with this album that they are worthy of airplay and deserve to be taken notice of. The musicianship and production is superb, with a lot of attention to detail, proving that striving for perfection does pay off. “Starting Gun” entices you in with tracks that will surprise and delight. Go and buy a copy because if you love rock, this is THE album that everyone will speak about in 2018 and beyond.
Review: Samantha Lamb
Band image: Mark Varney