Bad Veins – ‘Imposter’

Imposter marks the third album from Bad Veins, and their first following an eight-year hiatus. Helmed by Ben Davis, Bad Veins deliver a flourishing pop sound throughout, alongside themes that speak to the “imposter syndrome” many of us — and artist especially — can experience. “I had no career ambitions when I first started Bad Veins. I just enjoyed making music in my attic,” Davis explains. “So, there is always the feeling of ‘imposter syndrome’ when I have to do music business type things.”

Opening the album with a spirited synth-forward pop glow, “Helicopter” showcases the immediacy of Davis’ songwriting. “Helicopter, come and take me away,” the vocals let out wistfully, with sporadic pushes of buzzing synths and peppy percussion adding to the enamoring production. The ensuing “Arrow” infuses dance-friendly piano stabs with vibrant synth flashes. A melodic guitar addition complements the climactic bridge into a buzzing central hook, reminiscent of Cut Copy; the album’s opening tracks strut an anthemic, hook-forward polish that sets a fun listening experience into motion.

The album’s lead single is further evidence of the act’s standout songwriting and savvy pop aesthetic, driving from electro-pop understatements into a twinkling “never meant to come undone,” yearning — “I miss you, Wendy.” Infusions of mellotron flute concoct a modern pop whimsy alongside nostalgic synth-friendly throwbacks, cohesively merging the past and present The “hear your heart,” outpouring exudes a compelling grandiosity. The single, which comes alongside a music video, was written “in a particularly nostalgic mood,” per Davis.

Also impressing with its bursting, enthused production, “Stupid Heart” touts a youthful energy in its push to seize the present moment. Debonair guitars, pulsing synths, and twinkling synths accompany lyrics that emit a push for more outspoken honesty and perseverance: “There’s so much we left unsaid, grown up to be monsters in our head, don’t wanna wait for my death bed.” The “I will be here for your stupid heart,” conclusion furthers a thematic grasp throughout the release, which places value in relationships and venturing bravely past one’s self-doubts.

“With all our might, we’ll hold onto each other,” the central hook rings out on “Under the Cover,” further emphasizing the power of connection. The brisk rhythmic appeal and radiant synths adorn a punchy vocal lead, again touting a standout pop vibrancy. “Lonely Soldier” injects a more stylistic mystique, as hypnotic synth flourishes and chant-like vocal impacts building into an invigorating second half, with compelling distortion and orchestral-like expanse; “Lonely Soldier” thoroughly invigorates in its creative arsenal and tonal build-up.

The orchestral and synth-forward interplay continues to impress on the rousing finale “Instant,” which admits “it’s not so easy,” in moving past certain insecurities and fears, though triumphing with perseverance alongside an effervescent array of orchestration and vocal passion; it’s a thoroughly captivating closer to an album that excels in its bright, hooky pop spirit and defeating one’s infliction of “imposter syndrome.”

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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