Nashville trio Sound & Shape may come off as just another rock band at first. They aren’t overtly heavy, not even really hard rock, definitely categorized under the very broad alternative genre. It’s when I realize just that that my perspective changed. After I determined their Bad Actors album fits in the alternative category, I realized that I couldn’t immediately think of another alternative band that they really resemble.
Bad Actors starts with The Laughing Lovers, which goes back and forth from a slow and fast pace, while maintaining a sort of gloomy sound that is almost upbeat in a twisted way. Ryan Caudle’s voice has that unique yet familiar voice that holds up well with the songs change in pace and attitude, and it is his voice that gives the song that twisted upbeat feel. A good album opener is this track because it doesn’t throw off my interest.
It is on the following track Heavy Is The Head where I start to hear some real song writing capabilities from a musical perspective. The intro to the song is very superior, practically progressive, and definitely impressive. The fact that the rest of the song, for the most part, sounds nothing like the intro just puts me out of my head with curiosity in regards to what else I can expect.
While other songs like Venus, Rooms We Never Use have a basic sound to them that, while there are no complaints on my end, they don’t capture the me right away, Sound & Shape does their other shining moments on Bad Actors. For instance, the R.E.M.-esque intro to Hemmingway On Broken Hearts, putting an 80’s/90’s touch in to my mindset of the sound that Sound & Shape is trying to create, which I also hear in the title track Bad Actors and Save Your Sad Songs especially. Actually, the more I listen to The Tailor, I hear it there too while Sparks & Charges has a Foo Fighters spirit to it musically that I think makes it stand out.
There are a couple of surprisingly fast songs on the album. I say surprisingly because they both come one after the other and so late in the album. Hired Knives has a pace far faster than any other song to that point on Bad Actors. That is until you hit the next track Hammers. I kind of wish the songs were spread out on the album, because they both really hit you, particularly Hired Knives, with Hammers being the more upbeat sounding of the two tracks. These songs are then followed by the slowest paced song on the album, Curtain Call. It just seems like the three most distinctively different tracks on Bad Actors are all found in the same spot, right at the tail end of the album.
Bad Actors ends with Empty Beds, a song that I think lacks the punch a closing track should have. Really it is probably the second slowest paced song on the album, but Sound & Shape doesn’t do much with it. Sure it has a pretty good chorus and some melodies that I enjoy. The only reason I think this makes for a good closing track is the way the last thirty seconds of the song are the loudest thirty seconds on the album, with a chorus of vocals powering the speakers. I actually believe Curtain Call is meant to be the closer. Upon research, but I can’t verify this, Empty Beds seems to be a bonus track of some sort. If such is the case, then Curtain Call makes for an excellent closing track for Bad Actors.
All in all I’m impressed with Bad Actors and Sound & Shape in general. They are undeniably modern, but they bring back “college rock” sounds from the 80’s/90’s that most music fans have forgotten about, make those college rock sounds a little less upbeat, and voila. They show some good song writing, and most importantly, all three members of Sound & Shape sound completely comfortable playing with each other and they sound professional while doing it.
“Bad Actors” – This was the first song to really stand out to me. I find it to have the catchiest chorus most of all, but also I find it captures what the band is all about all in its almost three and a half minutes. It is also the first song that made me notice the 90s influences that are present in Sound & Shape’s sound. I don’t have a song sample to provide for you this time around.
7.5 (Out of 10)
|The Laughing Lovers 3:35|
|2.||Heavy Is The Head 4:00|
|3.||Hemmingway On Broken Hearts 3:38|
|5.||Save Your Sad Songs 2:47|
|6.||The Tailor 4:16|
|7.||Bad Actors 3:22|
|8.||Rooms We Never Use 2:47|
|9.||Sparks + Charges 4:06|
|10.||Hired Knives 2:40|
|12.||Curtain Call 4:45|
|13.||Empty Beds 4:38|