In many respects, the completion of The Light On, the latest five-song EP from Tennessee-based garage rock hellraisers Bad Cop, is a victory in itself. Informed in no small part by bassist and co-founder Alex Hartness’ near-fatal drug overdose that precluded its release, the record, while short, came dangerously close to never happening at all.
It was a close call that reenergized the band, and that renewed focus shines through on The Light On. The title alone reinforces Bad Cop’s newfound sense of clarity, even though the near-tragic narrative that underscores the bite-sized collection of stripped down, gnarly tracks is pretty hard to ignore. The record’s title track lays everything on the line, tapping into the backstory of Hartness’ brush with death with direct urgency (“I still kill myself in my mind,” singer Adam Moult confesses over what sounds like The Animals on a noise rock kick). The same goes for “My Dying Days”, which stomps along at mid-tempo with a fuzzy guitar jangle.
But the band’s bleak lyrical outlook doesn’t sour what’s otherwise a highly charged offering. “Post McDonalds Punks” is pure guitar-shredding gutter smut, as boorishly simple as its title would imply, while “Can’t Get Enough” sounds positively dreamy in its warped tip of the cap to early American rock and doo-wop. In the end, Bad Cop doesn’t steer too far from well-traversed neo-garage fodder on The Light On, but for a brisk five tracks there’s plenty of fun to be had, which is saying something considering the bleak circumstances surrounding its recording.
Essential Tracks: “Can’t Get Enough”, “Light On”