They clearly like a good full stop (or period) and this debut EP from Wellington threesome B.A.D.S, entitled ‘A.I.R 01’ is a sparkly collision of drone-pop, math rock and psychedelia.
Comprising Red Sky Blues and Delilah alumni in Peter Ellen, David Benge and Louis Reeve, ‘A.I.R 01’ was the last project to be recorded in the Wellington boutique recording studio, Blue Barn, before the building was re-purposed in December 2018.
Their EP kicks off with their driving paced single, Above My Sanctuary, where the ‘90s sparkle guitar takes centre stage, letting Reeve’s reverb-drenched vocals take the backseat.
“Let white doves fly, above my sanctuary,” Reeves wallows, as he depicts what seems like some sort of ebullient fantasy.
As the album progresses so do the riffs, the song tempos and structures allowing more creative space. Like Reeve’s elaborate and fictional wordplay the songs keep taking us to different places. Just when it begins to feel disorientating, a resolving chord will emerge out from the depths and make the angsty journey worthwhile.
Closer Sharpen My Knives is the EP’s standout, with a clear hint of Jakob to its intro. In what might be the band’s most vulnerable track, Reeve’s ethereal vocal delivery fits the subject matter of the lyrics. “Awoken my spirit, gliding over water…” Again we are drawn into the guitarist/singer’s dreamscape, and it doesn’t feel wrong. As the song progresses we are met with another of B.A.D.S’ totem instrumental breakdowns. However, this particularly dissonant chord change surfaces some un-called for anxiety, perhaps how Reeve’s feels as he takes us with him through his spiritual awakening. Finishing on a high pitched Pavement-inspired solo, this is an uplifting and introspective piece that particularly showcases his vocal ability.
‘A.I.R.01’ is an impressive debut, a musical journey that may make you want to travel deep into the McKenzie high country and enjoy vast empty landscapes. Undeniably surfy and incredibly unpredictable, it might take a few listens to connect with, but that’s what all good music requires.