Something tells me we could have had a better introduction to this lot…
Jonathan Bogart: Eight for the glassy, twitchy music, two for the drivel passing itself off as lyrics. I know, I know: lyrics don’t matter in dance music, but when they suck this bad, they do.
Matt Cibula: This wants to be a single when it grows up. That’s so cute when that happens.
Martin Skidmore: I quite like the slightly spooky high whistle, and the beats are okay, and the whole thing might have a trancey (old techno sense) Underworldy mood if it weren’t for the rotten singing and the trashy refrain.
Katherine St Asaph: It’s background music, but the broody, night-driving sort that the right background would catalyze; listening to this at noon on a laptop is missing the point. If only the vocalists weren’t so mewly.
Cecily Nowell-Smith: Booka Shade’s tracks always feel like summer nights. Like being out in the city somewhere around midnight, when the sky’s clouds are brown-black and the air’s still heavy with the day’s heat, and you’re in a loose straggle of friends, overjoyed to be in their company and maybe not quite together enough to make conversation. It’s there in the low bubble of the beat, in snatches of tune as round and bright as headlamps on other streets, in the way everything pulses darkly with warm-blooded energy. We could be out there right now, you and I, hearing someone’s last train rattle by and laughing at a bored old in-joke just for the sake of laughing. If I shut my eyes it’s like that soft air is on my skin, maybe we’re waiting in a queue or something — maybe that drippy vocal is just some guy I don’t know, just far enough away to be inoffensive background, just another sound to blend in with this warm dark summer feeling.
Anthony Easton: Is the difference b/w bad love and bad romance a sweetness, a cool refusal towards emotion? This song lacks all the fire and the drama, but adds a certain amount of refusal, which, as Coco taught us, is elegance.
John Seroff: Nothing revelatory here, but plenty to enjoy both on and between the beats.
Ian Mathers: Slinky, slightly seedy nocturnal electrohouse — it’s pretty much what they’ve always done. But while Booka Shade doesn’t have the world’s best quality control the singles are usually worthwhile, and “Bad Love” — complete with Chelonis R. Jones cooing from the shadows — is no exception. The individual elements don’t seem all that spectacular when I focus on them one at a time, maybe that’s where the duo’s experience comes in; together they make “Bad Love” atmospheric and propulsive, far more than the sum of its parts.
Kat Stevens: I possibly have unfair expectations of Booka Shade, what with them having made two of my top 10 dance tracks of the last decade in “In White Rooms” and “Charlotte”. It felt like both tracks were constructed out of a few notes held together with a bit of string, with someone going ‘AHHHHHHHH’ in the background every so often. I was truly impressed at this ability to make something really emotional from such deceptively simple ingredients. Obviously there was a lot more going on besides the big riffs in both tracks, but these additional details were carefully used to keep the momentum going and build up the riffs high into the stratosphere. Listening to “Bad Love”, it’s clear that Arno and Walter haven’t quite got the balance right this time. There’s no outright majority riff here, just a weak coalition of incompatible elements (e.g. vocals more complex than just repeating the song title). It’s not the worst possible result by any means, but “Bad Love” does not stir any feelings in my gut other than disappointment.
Michaelangelo Matos: Going pop doesn’t do them many favors, especially since it was their ready-for-the-floor-ness that crossed them over to non-dance fans to begin with. In this case, Chelonis R. Jones’s vocal simpers more than it soars, and the chiming end-hook is cloying. Thankfully, much of the new album isn’t.