Boon: Bad Machine [Album Review]

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Boon
Bad Machine
Window Sill Records [2022]

Bad Machine, the fourth album from Philadelphia experimental rock and pop band Boon, is the second release from the now established quartet of Brendan Principato, Drew Sher, Andy Senken, and Dan Lynch. On the album’s first single, “Talking To” the bright guitar tones weave together like the poppier side of bands like The Strokes, while the melodic energy that flows through “Candle,” the electronica/new wave feel of “Gallop,” and the lighter pop of “A Shape, a Shell” echoes the musicality of XTC.

While the band reports writing these songs while on the road in 2018, they still manage to speak to the sense of uncertainty that came with the loss of any appearance of control as the pandemic upended our plans over the last couple years. The song’s lyrics address the struggle get back out there and embrace life while we attempt to “Figure It Out.” There’s enough ambient noise and clusters of sound here and there on the 8 tracks of the album, begin with the sound cloud that opens “Pictures of Mom” and the record as a whole, out of which the song’s rhythm and melody finds its shape and form. Seeing pictures of their mother as a child, leads Principato to sing “Now I ask myself the same thing every morning when I wake/Can I keep my feelings off the shelf and in my own two hands?”

Just as each of us are relearning again how to trust the world of our experience and the people we encounter there, the band describes applying that same process to the recording of these songs. Recording the songs’ underlying skeletal core in one day, then trusting each other as they allowed the music to take shape and develop in the recording process, guided in the studio by Jesse Paller (Snail Mail), working together as a creative unit throughout the process.

The results seek to balance the noise and chaos of the larger world as heard in “The Light,” which pushes us toward anxiety and alienation, and the greater beauty and wonder we experience when we get out there onto the road of life along with everyone else, as expressed in the expansive, bouncing, catchy “oh, oh, oh’s” as “Barky” plays out, closing the record in another cloud of noise.

KEY TRACKS
“Talking To” / “Gallop” / “Candle”

ARTISTS WITH SIMILAR FIRE
XTC / Depeche Mode / Mutemath

BOON LINKS
Facebook | Bandcamp | Window Sill Records

Brian Q. Newcomb
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