Bad Breeding seem to embody so much about modern life in their music. That’s what a lot of the praise for last year’s Divide album came down to, a band embracing the pitch-black fury and nihilism that’s become a necessity to survive, and thrusting it through an anarcho-punk lens. Unsurprisingly, the acclaim was considerable, with many going as far as to dub Bad Breeding “the UK’s best new punk band”, and given their engagement with the firepower that’s typically embodied the most hard-hitting of punk bands, it’s easy to see why.
But things haven’t exactly changed within the space of a year, and so Abandonment serves as a condensation of the Stevenage mob’s manifesto – four tracks of blistering, on-the-fly noise painted with a post-punk darkness and aimed at those enabling these wrongs to go unhindered. Just take the title track and Psychic Copper, a pair of scathing indictments at the perpetuation of generational divides and outdated stereotypes respectively, tackled with a sense of power and violence that seems to be missing from so much of modern punk. If nothing else, Bad Breeding know how to get their message across with as much force as possible.
That said, where Abandonment excels in its sense of rage, as a technical listen, it can stumble. This is an EP recorded without any sort of post-production, and you can really tell given how the guitars frequently devolve into bursts of fuzz and static, and how deeply the vocals are buried within the mix. It definitely captures a frenticness and DIY aesthetic that can definitely be appreciated, but from a purely sonic perspective, Abandonment has very little tact to back up its bite.
Still, that’s ultimately down to personal preference, and for those who are more fond of the noisier, more erratic side of punk, Abandonment is a fine addition to Bad Breeding’s growing catalogue. Otherwise, it might be worth taking a look, but these four tracks feel a bit lacking in the tuning department to really fly. It’s not bad, but punk can show this level of frenzied anger while still being a bit more refined, and it’ll be for the better when Bad Breeding realise that.
For fans of: Idles, USA Nails, Loom
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Abandonment’ by Bad Breeding is released on 27th April on One Little Indian Records.