Badflower | OK, I’m Sick | Album Review
Big Machine / John Varvatos Records
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
After years of releasing singles and EPs, Los Angeles alt-rockers Badflower have finally released their anticipated debut album, OK, I’m Sick. Clocking in at a healthy 55 minutes, this record delivers an array of flavors from angsty punk to haunting ballads and everything in between.
Beyond the frontline of explosive guitar riffs, listeners will quickly discover the darkness laced into the poppiness. Each track simply drips with raw human emotion and sometimes uncomfortably so. It’s like the emo bands of the mid-2000s all grew up and tasted the true misery of adulthood.
The album mainly explores themes of anxiety and depression, and lead singer Josh Katz does not hold back. Tracks like the energetic “x ANA x” dissect Katz’s struggle with anxiety disorder. The album’s somber centerpiece, “24,” outright resembles a suicide note. But Badflower reserved the height of despair for their track “Daddy,” a sinister song, which explicitly delves into the trauma and distress that survivors of sexual abuse internalize and bury within themselves. Despite the masterful writing, listeners may find themselves struggling to listen to the song in its entirety. It’s really heavy.
Musically, this record delivers everything one could ask for from a brand-new alt-rock band. Its guitar-heavy composition lets the band explore all sorts of different sonic directions. Tracks like “Murder Games” create a dissonant soundscape of washy guitars drowned in feedback, easily mistakable for a Brand New song. Conversely, songs like the politically-charged “Die” feature trippy, fuzzed-out guitar riffs and drum grooves that easily venture into early Queens of the Stone Age territory but with an extra helping of angst.
This album shines because of its heartfelt and deeply personal themes. At some point in their lives, everybody will be able to relate to at least one of these songs.