Upon taking in the latest release from Toronto’s very own BadBadNotGood, I was left in an utter state of confusion. What was I listening to? Jazz? Hip-Hop? Electronica? All of these assumptions were wrong-I wasn’t listening to any one genre at all, I was listening to BadBadNotGood, a whole other dimension in itself of music complexity that blurred the lines of what the word genre really meant.
IV, the appropriately named fourth studio album by BBNG was released in July of 2016 and did not fall short to the high expectations fans and listeners all around the world were accustomed to following IV‘s precedent album, III. Critic reviews from far and wide couldn’t help but give their highest praise. Earning four stars out of five from both Exclaim! and AllMusic, it’s safe to say IV is not an album to sleep on. The album is so maxed out with versatility, passion and other-worldly melodies, it’s hard to remember that the creative geniuses behind the sound are four twenty-somethings. BBNG’s fresh innovative take on the jazz and hip-hop genres alike have been transformed within this album to take you to a place you’ve never heard before. Somehow, the sounds are so interesting to listen to yet relaxing and calm at the same time. The vinyl copy of IV was also pressed exclusively for the vinyl subscription service, ‘Vinyl Me, Please’ in July of 2016 in a special edition fuchsia colour-simply beautiful.
Track 3, titled “Time Moves Slow” with featured vocals by Sam Herring stands out from the rest of the album while also maintaining the perfect rhythmic transition from track to track to unite the album as a whole piece of art. The song’s slow melodic sound stays interesting by mixing in faster-paced drumming and electronic synth, and with the soulful gravelly, jazz-influenced tones of Herring’s vocals, track 3 ultimately puts this album on the map as something to look out for. For many, this album isn’t merely a record, it’s almost like a piece of visual art, something you want to reach out and touch.
Track 8, titled “Hyssop of Love” is a perfect 3 minute snippet to truly capture what the essence of BBNG is all about. The music differs from the album as a whole by having a slightly darker sound, with a strong and prevalent beat, rather than the jazzy, electronic feel that the majority of the album possesses. The vocal component, given gracefully by hip hop artist Mick Jenkins makes this track stand out as almost a slam poetry piece. It’s the only track on the album featuring a rap, and with lines like “The world would try to keep me silent / Keep me vibing / Claim to keep the peace / And then assassinate the peace makers” the strong message and story-telling capacity shine through as one of the most memorable songs on the album.
If you’re willing to open up your ears to something outside of the common realm of the top 40 hits and really give your brain something to think about, IV is something you’ll never regret letting yourself take in.