You won’t hear a bad album by The Bads. All you will hear – across the catalogue – are very, very good albums. The latest might be their finest, but I still go back to the other albums by The Bads and I’m never disappointed.
Travel Light begins with a light travelling piece, California, it’s breezy, lovely but it’s not indicative of the depth of the album; instead it’s just a nice way in; the calm opener that reminds of sunny seventies folk-pop and country-referencing radio music.
The Bads is about duo Dianne Swann and Brett Adams. They have the songs and the voices – Adams is one of the best guitarists New Zealand has produced. They create perfect amalgams of country-pop and indie-rock, making something that sits in-between, is informed by both sets of sounds and never feels like hackneyed trace-arounds. There’s a proper knees-up send-up with Good Lies, there’s beaut ballads (See The Light) and there are beguiling tunes that reveal more with each listen (Fire In A Caravan).
But for all of this to work – and as good as the duo of Swann and Adams can be when working alone, performing live as an acoustic twosome – The Bads is also a great band. The songs work not just for the strong vocal performances and crafty – crafted – hooks; the songs work because The Bads as a unit, the full ensemble, the backing band – is one of the best in the land. Dave Kahn, Mike Hall, Wayne Bell, Chris O’Connor – these are some of the country’s best musicians and here they provide the perfect backdrop for songs that burst with energy, that feel smart and happy and are thoughtful and sharp and so easy to soak in, to soak up; to return to.
Swann and Adams have, over the last decade, built up The Bads to be a name that is reliable – always. Each album is a sonic step forward, each album feels like it deserves a bigger audience. And Travel Light is an album that you should buy. You should listen to. And you should love. Because it’s good. So very good.