It is better to burn out than to fade away they say. This industry, with its constant pressures of writing, recording, touring, selling and repeating it ad nauseam, has claimed its fair share of casualties. It is a brutal cycle that unfortunately has seen Neil Young’s words used by some of its highest profile cases. Yet, some artists simply need a break; a pause in the cycle to rejuvenate the creative sources that fuel their art.
New York’s Bad Luck are an example of the latter. After the release of their 2014 debut album Cold Bones, the band seemed to wane. Their next EP was titled, appropriately perhaps, Noise In Your Head, and soon the band all but stepped aside from the industry’s constant need for engagement. On this occasion however, it seems that the time off has done wonders for Bad Luck. Rejuvenation then, is the blood of their new 6-song EP Drug Phase. And a terrific EP it is.
Taking cues from Say Anything, Bad Luck take the frantic, wiry energy of Adam Lazzara and infuse it with the more melodic overtones of Hot Rod Circuit. Songs like “Impressive Depressive” take an angular approach to punk’s melancholier moments, while “Mean Dudes” is an airy, accessible number that takes a page out of the Piebald book. In “Sheep Song” (a song we have previously talked about) Bad Luck throw a wrench into proceedings by forgoing the EP’s composite with an infectious, pop-tinged number that sways between a little jingly, a little bubblegum, and a lot of vibrancy. It’s a memorable effort that shines amongst an already luminous offering. And yes, it’s still the best “Ba Ba Ba” in a song since the Mr. T Experience did it with… well, “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba”.
As the acoustic flavors of “Ps. Whiffle Ball” ends, there’s a sense of accomplishment that Bad Luck are back and well and truly better than when they left. Cold Bones was certainly a debut that had plenty to like, but with Drug Phase, they’ve sharpened their craft with a more seasoned disposition. The jagged edges of their musical output only seem to have benefited from their time away. “Out of the blue, into the black … an’ once you’re gone you can never come back” Young sang, words so true. But for a select few like Bad Luck, they’ve proven him wrong.