It’s been a couple years since Sound & Shape‘s last record, Hourglass, but they’re back and better than ever with their new release Bad Actors. It came out this week, so feel free to download it from iTunes and follow along (plus you get a bonus track doing it that way!). The Nashville trio don’t hold anything back on this behemoth of rock music, which is somehow more polished and raw at the same time.
The album starts off sounding like a throw-back to late 90’s alternative before building into a loud joyride for your ear drums. The first couple tracks dig a trench for the sounds to flow through, and it’s easy sailing when you get to “Hemmingway On Broken Hearts,” my choice for the best song in this set. Guitars blaze and drums crash all around, while Ryan Caudle’s voice nestles into your brain.
There’s an obvious soft spot for Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden throughout Bad Actors. It feels like an homage, not a rip off, with their own spin put on the grunge/alternative aesthetic.
My other favorite tune is “Sparks + Charges” later in the album. When it starts you think “Oh, this is gonna be the soft ballad that I’ll listen to on this spin but skip it thereafter.” Nope. Give it a couple minutes and it totally transforms into a trippy jam posing as a ballad. A fun change of tempo song that keeps your ears at attention.
The album isn’t all wine and roses, though. It could be trimmed down a bit and be just as good or better. The songs that I would cut aren’t bad, just too much of the same thing. They succeed more when they change things up a bit more. And “Empty Beds,” the bonus track, is definitely good enough that it could have taken the place of one of those songs.
The band has a few shows lined up over the next month, but not a full tour. They’ll be at The End in Nashville tomorrow 9/26, and at Piano’s in NYC on 10/14. You can download Bad Actors here.