There’s a funny anecdote of how I was introduced to The Bad Flowers a couple of year ago, one which has already featured on these pages so we’ll not rehash it. Needless to say, after hearing their EP with their blues-drenched hard rock, I was captivated but as a live experience, they always eluded me.
That was, however, until last year at Wildfire and despite being on mid-afternoon, had a good crowd and made the most of their time, showing how tight they were as a live act which translated from the recorded product. Upping the production values from the EP, Starting Gun is an album from a band coming into their own.
From the monstrous opening riff of “Thunder Child”, you know what you’re getting with this band. No-frills, no-messing hard rock with more than enough blues to sate the appetite. “Lions Blood” continues that theme with Tom Leighton’s guitar work and booming vocals pinned together to create a track as ferocious as the title animal, telling the listener to rise to whatever challenges are in your way.
Despite being an album laden with riffs and grooves, one of the best moments comes with the acoustic-driven “I Hope”. As Leighton croons his vocals, it tells a story of someone wishing for better for someone close to them. It shows the versatility of Leighton’s voice and how they can deliver a wonderful ballad and segues excellently into “Let’s Misbehave”, taking a more blasé, if not, tongue-in-cheek approach to life.
Matching the behemoth-sized riffs are the basslines from Dale Tonks across the album. Notably, it comes on “Who Needs a Soul” as it takes centre stage with him locking in with drummer Karl Selickis to make some massive, pounding rhythms. Meanwhile, “Hurricane” is loaded with anger and vigour, its charging rhythm and screaming vocals working to make a furiously heavy song.
Closing out the album is “City Lights” and having featured on the original EP but remixed to bring it in line with the rest of the album, to go back to that material is a great bonus for fans. However, having gone back and listened to the EP, “Can You Feel It?” and “Big Country” would have been stronger songs to include.
As debut albums go, Starting Gun is a worthy opening salvo, there’s a couple of tracks which could have been dropped to make it a tighter album. With its 42-minute running time, trimming it down to a leaner nine track effort rather than eleven would still have provided the goods. By no means a mis-step or jumping the gun in caving to pressure to get an album out, The Bad Flowers have some cracking tunes in their arsenal and with their impending tour with Stone Broken and Jared James Nichols, they’re playing to the right crowds to win over a whole new set of fans.