Triple Crown/Favorite Gentlemen Records 
Fire Note Says: Bad Books delivers a line drive double. Not a home run; a line drive double.
A wise man, Nigel Tufnel, once said “This goes to eleven.” The opening track on II, Bad Books’ new album, feels like it might go to eleven. Not in volume but in reach, in the depth it might sink into your musical soul. As for that first track: it does a fine job. As do the second track, “No Rewards” (which ups the volume), and the third, the just-released single “Forest Whitaker.” But something else happens on that third track: the worm turns. The brain-tickle that begins this is catchy turns into this is catchy but only for right now. That is, it doesn’t claim any part of your musical soul beyond this season. You know, like a Maroon 5 album. This feeling continues for two more songs.
The album’s midpoint, “Friendly Advice,” delivers a renewing jolt of solid musical sense . . . only to stumble back into “No Sides,” a song indistinguishable from thousands of others from the past fifteen years. The second half of the album, even more so than the first, finds the band exploring various approaches. And like precocious students, each attempt is halfway successful but not particularly compelling.
Just as power pop can give you the Replacements, power pop can also give you a lot of mid-grade and worse. And while this album never dips into the bad it also never truly aspires. Or maybe they just need some time. I’d be curious enough to hear their third album.
Holy snacks, those first three tracks would have made a superior EP. But taking the album as it is, this goes to seven.
Key Tracks: "The After Party", "No Rewards", "Friendly Advice"
Bands With Similar Fire:
The New Amsterdams
My Morning Jacket
Bad Books: Bad Books [Fire Note Review 11/8/10]
Bad Books Website
Bad Books Facebook
Triple Crown Records
Favorite Gentlemen Records
-Reviewed by Alan Black (www.alanblack13.com)