Connor’s Coffee Shop: Bad Books Music Review


Connor Tuttle

Welcome, welcome faithful readers to my humble music review. More specifically, welcome back!


The album I will be reviewing today is:

Bad Books – Bad Books

Bad Books

On October 19th, 2010, musicians Andy Hull, Robert McDowell (of Manchester Orchestra), and Kevin Devine released their debut album as a supergroup (a supergroup is a band created by already popular musicians) entitled “Bad Books”, although occasionally referred to as “I” or “1”. Although the genre of this album constantly fluctuates between rock and acoustic folk, I think that “Indie Folk” is a pretty good middle ground. This album talks about many different topics such as loss of family members, failing relationships, mental health, and leaving home. Throughout the album, the lead writer would switch between Hull and Devine, while Robert McDowell supplies the guitar tracks with the occasional backing vocal. Andy Hull wrote 5 songs, while Kevin Devine wrote 6. This shared writing tactic is reused throughout their other releases.


Devine (Left), Hull (Middle), McDowell (Right)

Lyrically, this album takes on a more melancholic feel, without many happy songs. I really think that Andy Hull and Kevin Devine have very similar writing styles. Not only that, but they have relatively similar voices. When I first started listening to Bad Books, I would constantly get confused as to who was singing. This could be due to the fact that I was unfamiliar with the artists’ past works. I feel that veteran Manchester Orchestra fans would be able to hear the difference between voices. Although the writing styles can be hard to distinguish, I have caught notice to the detail that Kevin Devine writes more upbeat and “heavier” (heavy quotations) songs like “Holding Down The Laughter”, while Andy Hull writes more acoustic and gloomy songs like “I Begged You Everything”.


A very noticeable feature on this album is the incredible harmonization between the 3 singers. This detail is very apparent in the song “The Easy Mark & The Old Maid”. As I said before, Hull and Devine have very similar voices, so they are able to harmonize with each other very well.


Vocals: 9/10

The harmonization in this album is very beautiful, and very powerful. Both Devine and Hull have very unique voices that fit the style very well.

Guitar: 7/10

There are some very impressive guitar tracks on this album, and some very beautiful chords brought in by Robert McDowell.

Bass: 5/10

Nothing too special or out of the ordinary. There are some good bass lines on this album, but usually they are just fairly simple (which does not mean they are bad).

Drums: 7/10

The drums on this album can be few and far between… but when they are there, they have a welcome place on this album.

Lyrics: 6/10

The lyrics are definitely very unique. This could be a potential fault to this album. Personally, I like it, but it may not bode well with some.

Uniqueness: 5/10

Although a lot of the songs are unique lyrically, most of this album can be separated into two sections: Rock & Acoustic.


Overall Score: 6.5/10

I think that this is a very great and emotional album, with some very catchy riffs that can easily get stuck in your head. This album definitely has it’s faults, but I think that the songs have their own charm that not many bands can replicate.


By the way, you can request albums for me to review. If you have an album for me to review, just leave the name of it in the comments and I will write a review.