Album Review: “Psychic Reader” by Bad Bad Hats

Mellow and groovy, Bad Bad Hats deliver a soft but intentional punch with their first ever LP, “Psychic Reader.” The album released via Bandcamp.com on July 17, along with their first video of the starting track, “Midway” on YouTube. Bad Bad Hats are known for their laid-back, restrained but wonderfully simplistic sound and Psychic Reader did not deviate from this norm. With two previous EP’s over the past three years, Bad Bad Hats seem to be hitting their stride of mixing soft melodies with bass lines that will not quit.

The first song to stand out on the album, showing a lot of potential as a radio single, is “Joseph.” Its slow groove and heavy bass guitar influence propel it while not feeling overbearing. Ethereal back up vocals and airy guitar lines further emphasize this mood. Once the song moves along into the chorus, the bass plucks out some very dissonant notes; this greatly distinguishes this song from any of the other tracks, lending it an air of memorability and thoughtfulness. Without this little change in the melodic structure, this song would have been forgettable. But the choices made in its structure add depth that this album longs for.

Songs like “Spin” and “Things We Never Say” are incredibly nostalgic, reeling in the listener with its mid to late 90s alternative flair. The easy guitar lines of “Things We Never Say” play nicely with the melodramatic lyrics, and “Spin” uses cowbell in the best way, giving the listener flashbacks of a dancier time. “Spin” also features some curious lyrics with lines like, “Hey baby I been thinkin’ about you/ Hey baby I’ve been wantin’ to tell you/ I don’t want to die for you.” When paired with this throwback song structure, “Spin” pushes the listener back and forth from yesterday into the here and now.

Easily the most memorable song on this LP is “Shame,” the second in the lineup. The only upbeat song on the album, it bursts out of the track list with a fuzzy bass line and drums that are powerful and driving. The guitars are brassy and distorted with vocals wrought with emotion, making this two-and-a-half minute song shine. This song perfectly breaks up with rather trudging album with a decadent, unrelenting sound, and certainly makes the listener want to dance in their spot.

This Minneapolis band has changed for the better, letting their chilled-out side blossom with “Psychic Reader.” Each song adds a level of esoteric splendor, keeping you calm while anticipating the small bursts of enthusiasm (delivered by songs like “Shame” and “Spin”). The production on this LP is exemplary, allowing the listener to pick and choose their favorite instrument to focus on throughout the song with ease. Bad Bad Hats’ “Psychic Reader” is an excellent album to relax with, have a cup of tea, and fully realize the meaning of music tranquility all while digging deeper into the alternative roots from which their music stems.

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