Published Sep 18, 2018If you're trying to get a sense of D.C. power-pop outfit Bad Moves, look no further than the video accompanying promotional single "One Thing." The clip follows bassist Emma Cleveland, fitted in a striking red trench coat, as she dances her way through the band's hometown. There's a certain effortlessness in her recklessness, in how easily she transforms the wide-screen snapshots of daily life into something explosive, campy, joyous.
To listen to Tell No One is to don a red trench coat of your own, as Bad Moves lend you their energetic eye for adding shades of ecstasy to the slog and anxiety of life.
Taking the sonic economy of power-pop and blasting it through the cheap headphones of grunge and punk, Bad Moves churn out a musical style that is both confident and immediate. Tell No One leans away from the more explicitly political work of D.C.-based punks like Priests or Flasher, focusing instead on personal peaks and valleys.
Yet Bad Moves never become solipsistic in their emotional introspection. Speaking about the process of creating the record, drummer and songwriter Daoud Tyler-Ameen describes an exercise in communal recording, resulting in songs where it is not immediately clear who is performing what. Album opener "Change Your Mind" exemplifies this collective energy, building into a riotous call-and-response that converges the band's many distinct voices and sounds into one.
Finding communion in lightness and grit, Tell No One reaches its highs when it is most streamlined. If the record lags at all, it is only in its total runtime; as the final guitar riffs come into sight on album closer "Missing You," you get the sense that a few tracks could have been left on the cutting room floor to more forceful effect. Nonetheless, Tell No One is a pulse-raising debut about living life and discovering self, that, in its disarming verve, is a wondrous and winning debut. (Don Giovanni)