Badu might be best enjoyed on summertime drives or gathered around a fire pit with friends.
Sometimes good things happen when you’re avoiding writing your dissertation. You write a long-overdue CD review, for instance.
In August, Victoria, BC’s Bear Mountain dropped Badu, a sonic smoothie packed with upbeat electro-pop. Here, you’ll find some dance-y ’80s elements, some yearning soul, some shimmery pop, and some dance-floor dives.
Once you skip the weird, instrumental title track (sorry, guys), you’ll enjoy the ride. “Always Been You” is almost Scritti Politti–like, with its high-octave vocals and New Wave sound. Next, the band delivers the synth-heavy “Give It Up,” a song perfect for spinning in the summertime sun. There’s a more serious, singer-songwriter vibe to “Here I Am,” showing off the band’s sonic range. I’m taken back to my high school days with the sunbeam-y “Hopeful”—although, truth be told, I was often more miserable than hopeful during those years.
Up next is “Can’t Stand to Lose,” one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s built more for the dark club than a sunlit day, with understated vocals and a relentless groove. The gentle “Atembe” gives way to “Alibi,” a track that would feel right at home on your friendly neighborhood pop radio station. “On My Own” returns Bear Mountain to the realm of The 1975—who bust a few genres themselves, by the way. Before it’s all over, the Canucks send give us one more keyboard-drenched dance number with the largely instrumental “Show Up to Fight.”
Badu might be best enjoyed on summertime drives or gathered around a fire pit with friends. It’s a fun, agreeable listen, albeit one that’s a bit slight and not altogether memorable. Still, you’ll enjoy it while it’s on—even if you can’t precisely remember why the next day. B- | Laura Hamlett