Published Jul 06, 2016BADBADNOTGOOD's fourth band-only album, appropriately titled IV, is the Toronto-based jazz band at their most versatile — not an easy feat, considering their long list of diverse projects. IV is the group's first record to feature vocalists, as well as their first album with longtime touring partner and collaborator Leland Whitty as a formal member of the group.
As with previous efforts, the band's meticulous technical skill is untouchable on IV. Each song possesses rhythmic and melodically intricate properties that sound somehow both rehearsed and spontaneous. "Confessions Pt. II" featuring Colin Stetson — a sequel to III's "Confessions" — is a six-and-a-half-minute sax saga introduced by Whitty and Stetson laying down a captivating baritone riff before exploring all corners of the musical landscape with an intensity that matches the grandeur of the original "Confessions."
Instead of basking in the comforts of past triumphs, the group expand their palette on "Time Moves Slow," a smouldering R&B offering composed with, and sung by, Future Islands' Sam Herring. The mix of Herring's grainy voice, Hansen's brooding bass and Tavares' mournful keys succinctly encapsulates what makes soul music so effective: relatable lyrics and a band capably communicating deep-rooted feeling. On other parts of the album, particularly "IV" and "Chompy's Paradise," BBNG flash the brilliance of their musicianship by exploring different jazz moods that will satisfy fans of their earlier material.
The record is particularly enchanting because of potentialities it hints at. On "Lavender" — the album's electronic cut with Canadian producer Kaytranada — we hear an ominous, bass-y sound that is unlike any other BBNG song heard before; while R&B and hip-hop are avenues the band have driven before, the approach here is new. Best of all, the eminent Canadian combo have a wealth of unreleased material that could see a release in the future. So while IV is extraordinary for delivering fresh music that elaborates on their past work, it feels particularly exceptional because of its forward momentum. (Arts & Crafts)