Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Album Reivew: Warriors by Bad Cop/Bad Cop (by Robyn Pierce)

Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s second full-length album Warriors was released on 16 June via Fat Wreck Chords. I’ve been jamming to this album since it came out, but there’s been so much rad music released this year that I guess it’s been tough to keep up with all of the reviews (what a great problem to have). Bad Cop/Bad Cop established their fun and edgy pop-punk sound on their earlier Boss Lady EP and 2015’s LP Not Sorry, but I think that Warriors is the band’s best offering to date. So, let’s get into it.

Warriors leaps into action with ‘Retrograde’, which sets the tone for the whole record with its strong melody, catchy chorus and fantastic vocal harmonies. The song is about picking yourself up and carrying on, and it really lifts you up with exuberant defiance. The next two tracks are similarly fantastic pop-punk tracks (seriously, I couldn’t pick a favourite among the three). ‘I’m Done’ has a bit of a Bad Religion feel to it, but with a distinctly feminist agenda. I would have said that this is 2017’s feminist anthem until I got into the third track, ‘Womanarchist’, and realised that Bad Cop/Bad Cop are just churning out these beauties. This is really top-class songwriting, with clever and thoughtful lyrics packaged inside captivating hooks. The video for ‘Womanarchist’ is also pretty rad, with some awesome punk cameos. The album changes tone slightly in ‘Why Change a Thing’, which is more biting and critical than the first three tracks – lashing out at those who turn a blind eye to structural gender inequality. ‘Victoria’ is also more serious, offering a story about Victoria’s constant struggles with mental illness (including depression and dysphoria) and suicide. Although speaking on behalf of ‘Victoria’, the song offers some necessary reflection on a tragic situation that is all too real and often not directly addressed.

On my first listen, I would probably have said that the first half of this album is stronger than the second, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. The vocal harmonies in ‘Amputations’ are possibly my favourite thing on the whole of Warriors. This sixth track is also the most fun you can have while thinking about the need to cut destructive people out of your life. As Bad Cop/Bad Cop reminds us, “it’s not cruelty, it’s just self-preservation”. After this, ‘Broken’ hits you with some delectable bass lines in a song that could easily have been another single off of this album. Again, the band turns to a difficult subject with the aim of bettering or uplifting. You can’t finish ‘Broken’ without getting the chorus lines “I’m broken, what an easy way out. Justifications have ruled and defined me” stuck in your head, and so the song keeps on reminding you to let go of the excuses that get in the way of self-improvement. The next two songs, ‘Wild Me’ and the titular ‘Warriors’, dare you to find the wild warrior raging inside and to break out of society’s cookie-cutter gender roles. ‘Warriors’ is more bass heavy and would sit well in a film training montage, while ‘Wild Me’ makes it clear that Bad Cop/Bad Cop “will not back down”. The last two tracks on Warriors are a little more gritty and old-school, particularly ‘Kids’ – which talks about the darker side of suburbia and the domestic cycle of abuse. ‘Brain is for Lovers’ is quite sentimental, reminiscing about old times and how “it’s a shame that things have to change”, although the song ultimately shows that it’s necessary to move on. It’s a good track to end with and plays off the album with some rousing vocals.

While this record may be a bit poppy or slick for some, I think Bad Cop/Bad Cop have produced a stellar album that is both fun and empowering. The band treats difficult topics like sexism, mental illness, and abuse with an indomitable exuberance and a qualified idealism. The darker subjects show that the members of Bad Cop/Bad Cop are well aware of the world’s ills, but that they refuse to abide them. On Warriors, the band offers a stirring call to the punk community to come together as an army of warriors to fight daily injustices and give us an album packed full of the energy that all everyday fighters need.

Stream and download Warriors here: https://badcopbadcop.bandcamp.com/album/warriors

Like Bad Cop/Bad Cop here: https://www.facebook.com/badcopbadcopband/

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.