Hard rock quintet Bad Touch emerges from the studio with their latest album, Kiss The Sky. Their second offering on the Marshall Records label sees the band largely picking up where they left off, albeit with better songs and a more even set. Stylistically, the LP is not that different from 2018’s Shake A Leg, but their hard-driving, southern-tinged groove, coupled with catchy hooks keeps things interesting.
While most of the tracks might be termed “basic rock and roll,” that designation wouldn’t bother the band at all—this is what they are working towards. The instrument voicings are excellent, especially the guitars. Daniel “Seeks” Seekings and Rob Glendinning clearly put a lot of thought into their choice of tone, and their pairing as a traditional rhythm and lead combo feels natural and central to the album’s sound. Add in Stevie Westwood’s powerful, vocal roar, and Bad Touch has a frontline as impressive as nearly any of their contemporaries.
Appropriately, “Come A Little Closer” leads off with a simple, but effective, pulsing riff. Based on a quick three-chord turnaround, the hook begs singing along to, and it features a great slide interlude. The compact, riff-verse-chorus-solo structure is immediately apparent and revisited throughout the album. “I Get High” follows this pattern, but the team smartly changes up the sonic template while keeping a very full mix. Perhaps the best song of the bunch, “Let Go,” also follows suit, but its pacing and sections are once again different, the third song in an opening group molded from the same basic writing template. The chorus, gospel-infused and joyous, is the best on the album and Bad Touch wisely inserts it often.
“Strut” is a good song, and so is the revved-up cover of “I’ve Got the Music In Me.” “Can You Save Me” veers from the uptempo, full-throated songs to offer a tune that is slower and more reserved. It’s a welcome change of pace, and an opportunity for Michael Bailey (bass) and George Drewry (drums) to stand higher in the mix, as the guitars and vocals are turned down a bit. Subsequent listens reveal their crucial contributions throughout Kiss The Sky, but the nature of the genre can lead to the rhythm section being overpowered—even a tandem as good as this pair.
Other standouts are the titular “Kiss The Sky” and “Read All About It.” The former is notable for a nifty pre-chorus detour that bolsters the main dish and comes with a healthy helping of Glendinning’s guitar work. The latter furnishes the best display of the “Seeks”/Glendinning guitar duo on the LP. A great example of a partnership where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the bandmates play in a way that is reminiscent of the halcyon days of Izzy and Slash.
“Sun And The Moon” deserves mentioning for its subject matter. On an album dominated by personal introspection, love, or just plain fun, this song sneakily delivers a timely message of togetherness that is a bit prescient and perfect for the moment. In closing, the direction and mood of “Something About Your Kiss” is another departure from the group’s comfort zone, but it works in its brooding and expectant tone. The explosive ending is nearly flawless, serving as a strong conclusion to both the song and album.
Beyond the infectious verses and top-level musicianship, Kiss The Sky also includes some great vocal interplay, both between the core members and the backup singers. Little nuances like these, as well as piano and organ parts, shine through with repeated listenings. Bad Touch does a good job at maximizing their inherent power and finding ways to accentuate details that eventually separate the great bands from the good ones. Each of their offerings has been better than the one that came before it, and there is no reason to assume that this trend won’t continue. This album is great and it should keep fans more than satisfied until its successor.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Come A Little Closer
– Let Go
– Kiss The Sky
– Read All About It
– Something About Your Kiss
The Big Hit
– Let Go
Review by Willie Witten