British hard rockers Bad Touch return with their fifth studio album, Bittersweet Satisfaction, via Marshall Records. The album, which has its sound anchored in a classic rock revival style mixed with modern textures, delivers a set of 10 songs that bridge the gap between raw power and softer accents.
Comprised of Stevie Westwood (vocals), Rob Glendinning (guitar), Daniel Seekings (guitar), Michael Bailey (bass) and George Drewry (drums), Bad Touch have been churning out their bluesy, working-class brand of hard rock since 2010, increasingly establishing themselves as a recognizable force in the scene. With Bittersweet Satisfaction, the group adds big-sized, pop-infused choruses to their rough-edged sound in an effort to reach wider audiences.
The full-length effort kicks off with “Slip Away,” a hard-hitting track that echoes influences from the Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin playbook. The combination of a strong main riff, a driving rhythm and a chorus sporting colorful melodic accents sets the tone for the album. Channelling the spirit of both AC/DC and Sammy Hagar’s Van Halen, “This Life” follows suit, delivering another rock-solid, satisfying number.
“Spend My Days” is almost a pop rock song with its strong melodic inclinations, while the energizing title track maintains the same rough verses/soft chorus structure from the previous numbers but now with a touch of Alice Cooper’s influence.
Bluesier and more grounded in comparison, “Nothing Wrong With That” is a solid mid-paced rocker that delivers an inspiring message, even if may leave some listeners wishing for more development. Another highlight, “Come Back Again” rounds out the tracklist as a southern rock-inspired ballad with stellar lead work, drawing inspiration from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes.
As for the production/mixing style, Bittersweet Satisfaction boasts a polished and slick sound, with each instrument occupying its right space and having just enough to both breathe and blend in, which allows the music to shine in a crystal clear fashion. However, one might feel that this can be a double-edged sword in terms of this specific album, given the fact that the music on offer here loses some of its edge and dirt due to the overly clean finish. The record’s slickness provides clarity but sacrifices some of the raw, gritty energy that certainly could have added to the album’s appeal.
Similarly, in terms of the songwriting aspect, the album’s venture into the territory of pop-flavored, more accessible choruses and textures may not have worked entirely to its advantage. Those elements don’t necessarily result in catchier tunes and, again, might even dilute the record’s energy, grit and rawness.
All in all, though, Bittersweet Satisfaction is a good addition to Bad Touch’s discography. The record explores a more polished, mainstream sound without abandoning the band’s hard rock roots and offers an enjoyable experience brimming with positive energy, which is something that rock fans of all backgrounds can appreciate.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Slip Away
– This Life
– Bittersweet Satisfaction
– Come Back Again
The Big Hit
– Come Back Again
Buy the album: Amazon