So here it is; Bad for Lazarus’ debut album has finally arrived. Formed by Rich Fownes back in 2009, the band have made their name by being a frantically hypnotic live act and after a series of singles and the odd EP they’ve seen fit to make the jump to full length record. It’s been an odd journey to get to this point as the album seemed like it was due for release a long time ago and even current singles like Burnt! didn’t make the final track list. Regardless, Bad for Lazarus have decided that Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang! in this form is the best example of their achievements to date and it’s difficult to argue with them.
If you’ve yet to experience the grungy rock ‘n’ roll glory that is Bad For Lazarus then try to imagine the sort of thing that Little Richard would make if he resurrected Kurt Cobain and joined The Hives. This is big, bluesy, poppy rock ‘n’ roll written with nasty guitar tones and a huge helping of fun.
What becomes apparent very early on in your first play of Life’s a Carnival is that the record is absolutely crammed with singles. This makes complete sense when you think about the five singles that preceded it, but Bad for Lazarus are scarily good at making a catchy little number or twelve. Caught in the Twist is a funky affair that puts the gnarly guitar tones front and centre, My Muddle’s keyboard riff is pure earworm glory and Bad Stallion is superlative in its raw, post punk madness. There is no shortage of infectious melodies on this record.
Thankfully Bad for Lazarus’ rather unruly style makes the album wonderfully exciting and it constantly throws surprises at you. Disco Biscuits (For Breakfast) puts a soulful little vocal melody in the mix and it really sets the song off. A change of vocalists ensues for 7 Minute Itch which allows guest vocalist Liela Moss to take centre stage. What’s so excellent about this track in particular is that despite the change to female vocals, the song is clearly Bad for Lazarus which is a true testament to how beautifully original the band sound.
Continuing with vocals, an interesting change has occurred with Fownes himself as the frontman has completely dropped his lower, gruntier vocal style in favour of a higher, cleaner range that has a retro rock ‘n’ roll vibe. It generally suits the music on Life’s a Carnival much better than Fownes’ lower range did on some of the band’s older material with one exception; Old Rats on a New Ship. Old Rats is the band’s first song and after five years of hearing it with Fownes’ lower vocal range, it simply sounds wrong without it. It’s still a brilliant song with its massive hip hop beat still taking the driver’s seat, but something’s lost without Fownes’ deeper, bluesier vocals.
Regardless, this is a minor complaint on a near flawless album. Bad for Lazarus’ debut album may have been a long time coming but the five years the band have spent writing, recording and touring has changed them into a well-oiled yet raucous, blues rock machine. Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang! is loaded with infectious songs and there isn’t a minute of it that’s not worthy of your attention. Buy this album and tell your friends; Bad For Lazarus are coming to town.
Bad For Lazarus’ Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang! is out now and available to buy through 1-2-3-4 Records.