Bad Breed’s The Bad Breed In Ferocious Love is an album about getting back up again. It’s not only about finding a will to live after personal tragedy and mental anguish, but it is also about finding joy through connection, love, and song. That may sound cheesy to you, but Bad Breed’s aim is true. For singer and drummer Mike Gribben, the making of this record helped him through the death of his best friend and the subsequent depression and anxiety that came with it. You can hear that through every ounce of the music. Gribben’s vocals can be a tad jarring and out of place, but there is no doubt that he is heartfelt and getting by with a little help from his friends.
For the most part, the band is on fucking fire. The chemistry of Gribben, bassist/singer Maylin Ortega, keyboardist Mark Hundevad, and guitarist Oscar Tang’s never wavers. They can seamlessly go from strut-your-stuff funk to upbeat Motown soul and R&B balladry without even batting so much as an eyelash. This is best seen on the album highlight, “In The Real World,” which are two songs woven into one. It starts as a slow, pensive mediation on loss and death before picking up the speed halfway and morphing into a 60s-gospelesque barnburner, kind of like The Beatles “The End” meets Aretha Franklin’s “Say a Little Prayer.” It’s too bad that this track is only the second song I felt it really sounded like a closer; something you would hear during the closing credits of a romantic comedy.
The vocals are on point too throughout the whole album and they offer a great deal of variety for the listener. The band has no appointed frontperson, so every vocalist featured has a chance in the spotlight. Katherine Wilson, Brea Scott, and Maylin Ortega are all soulful and powerful singers who expertly interpret and lend emotion to Gribben’s story. Their deliveries contrast greatly with Gribben’s raw vocals to mixed results. Gribben has a ferocious rock and funk voice that is equal parts, Mick Jagger at his snottiest, and Weird Al at his most nasal. It works wonders on “War With Myself” where you can hear him dancing with his demons. Sadly, it rings falsely and seems forced on the slowest and most personal track ,“As Promised” which is strange considering he wrote the lyrics. Wilson, who shares lead vocal duties on this one, is far more emotive and vulnerable sounding and should have taken the solo.
All in all, The Bad Breed In Ferocious Love is a lot of fun and will give you good vibes all around. “Animal Instinct” is so goofy and weird, and yet oddly sexual, that you won’t be able to resist. I love the call and answer vocals on “That’s What I’d Say.” It’s where the trick of having a revolving door of vocalists is utilized best. It reminds me so much of when Mick and Tina Turner performed together at Live Aid. In no way, should those two styles mesh and yet…
Most of all, the album is uplifting and is bolstered by the spirit of Mike Gribben. It’s the sound of rediscovery and the healing power of music. Some of it may be a bit heavy-handed at times, but if Gribben’s goal was to give you the same smile that he had while making this, then mission accomplished.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Danielle Kenedy