Boon, photo by Julia Leiby

Boon – Bad Machine [REVIEW]

There is comfort in chaos. Sometimes, letting the tide overtake you can be more rewarding than staying safe on the shore. There are times when the best choice is to trust in the beauty of madness.

This is exactly what Boon discovered when recording their fourth album, Bad Machine. The group made the conscious decision to lean into spontaneity while working on the release. This was the first time the band had a solid lineup over two albums – frontman Brendan Principato, Andrew Senken, Drew Sher, and Dan Lynch – and they decided to test their newfound bond by building out simple songs and then adding on to those “skeletons” together until they became something new.

It’s a bold move to write a track and then essentially improvise together over that creation. The results of their experimental approach are wonderful. Bad Machine is psychedelic and lush, filled to the brim with kaleidoscopic layers of vocal harmonies, soft guitar distortions, acoustic twangs, and drifting melodies.

The album opens with “Pictures of Mom,” fading in with a montage of tumultuous vocals and instrumentals before settling into a warm nostalgic hum. Chaos, meet cozy.

The sumptuous, autumnal sounds present on the record are reminiscent of Fleet Foxes or Animal Collective. Many tracks are lyrically fantastical, like “Candle” and its magical descriptions of nature (“Spider living in the oven/tries to fill its empty stomach. Hums a tune to calm himself/A web will come in time“). The track is punctuated with majestic yelps, yet keeps a comforting timbre despite its somewhat disconcerting narrative.

Other tracks toe a similar line between the tranquil and the disorienting. “Talking To,” a track about anxious thought loops, remains reassuring thanks to its switches from spiraling disquiet to tranquil harmonizations. “Gallop” blends the dark, thrumming percussion of Depeche Mode with the sumptuous ambiance of Grizzly Bear.

“The Light,” the most emotional track on the record, is somber yet still vaguely comforting…at least until it introduces muddled yells and sporadic percussion into the mix. The track is preceded by the most encouraging song, “A Shape, A Shell,” which tenderly repeats, “ask yourself what you need.”

Bad Machine is full of surprises, with Boon exploring various emotional beats and taking unexpected turns with each crescendo. It’s the kind of album that you can snuggle up to and get a little emotional with. It’s a sonic chameleon, with hidden layers revealing themselves with every listen. Give the record a spin; invite the comfort of chaos into your ears.

Support Bad Machine on bandcamp or stream it over on Spotify, and follow Boon on Twitter or Instagram. Header Image 📷: Julia Leiby

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