Album of the Week: Bad Bad Hats, 'Lightning Round'


Bad Bad Hats, 'Lightning Round'
Bad Bad Hats, 'Lightning Round' (Courtesy of artist)

In a game show, the lightning round is a chance for contestants to answer as many questions in as little time as possible, and the score can make or break the whole game. For Bad Bad Hats, they chose the name 'Lightning Round' for their sophomore album because the stakes feel just as high. After a breakout debut album, 2015's 'Psychic Reader', which led to successful tours opening for Margaret Glaspy and Third Eye Blind, what comes next for the band?

"We were really happy with the reception of 'Psychic Reader,' and we really feel like we grew a lot because of that experience, getting to play in front of so many people and go to so many new cities," lead singer and songwriter Kerry Alexander told me recently. "We felt really excited about 'Lightning Round' and confident, and that it expressed all that growth that we had experienced after being on the road and just growing as people."

The new album does seem to find the band in the middle of a growth spurt. Alexander still finds plenty of fertile territory to explore when it comes to teenage love and heartbreak ("I wish I was 17 again, back when love really moved me," she sighs on "Nothing Gets Me High"), but having recently married her bandmate and fellow guitarist Chris Hoge, she also challenged herself to contemplate the unique ups and downs of long-term relationships in her songs.

Sonically, the band is sounding as polished and poppy as ever -- nearly every song on the album sounds like a single -- but thanks to the contributions of the album's producer Brett Bullion, they've also started playing with more experimental techniques, adding a new depth to their sound. At the end of the album's centerpiece, "Nothing Gets Me High," for example, the song screeches to a halt to make space for a meandering, looped guitar part, providing an intimate and quiet moment in the midst of an onslaught of pop jams.

With such a solid new album under their belt and a new lineup in place on stage -- founding bassist Noah Boswell will depart the group after this weekend's album release show at First Avenue to head to grad school, with bassist/drummer Connor Davison and drummer Reese Kling joining the ranks to expand the band into a quartet -- Bad Bad Hats are eager to begin a season of aggressive touring and recording more new music, advancing past their Lightning Round and onto the next phase.


Bad Bad Hats - Official Site

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