Where does the line between music and humour stop becoming a contentious issue? It’s possible to argue that “comedy music” shouldn’t be approached as debatable or nuanced at all, though the other side of the coin is that lots of the bands who have previously accentuated their flavour with tongues planted distinctly in cheek have approached it with a deadpan sensibility. That’s the joke, of course; that nobody knows whether to take the music seriously or not.
In the case of Midlands based and multi-national quartet Bad Guys, that line is traversed delicately. Read any interview with them and their outward repartee is deliberately ridiculous. You hear stories about Bad Guys trashing a chalet at the 2008 Melvins curated ATP festival, see pictures of them performing stark naked; neither of which are particularly outlaw-ish stunts in the grand scheme of rock ‘n’ roll, but their fuelling of that hard-rocking and hard-partying cliché walks that thin line between genuine pleasure and posturing.
On Bad Guynaecology, the ramshackle line about not caring who they offend comes into fruition even if it’s never directly asserted. The humour in songs like “Prostitutes” is clearly appropriated by a lack of care as to what the P.C. brigade think. Whether it’s actually funny or not is a different question, and after the short, thrashy burst of “Zoltan” and penultimate track “Motorhome’s” one and a half minute crust-punk oeuvre the novelty has worn fairly thin. But the point that Bad Guys will make to anyone when considering the comedic aspect of their music is actually that it’s almost a point void of serious consideration, and they just make music that they think “rocks”. And whether through crass or slightly wholesome means, Bad Guynaecology does that almost all the way through.
Opener “Crime” is one of example of when they get the balance between wit and old-school, rollicking charm exactly right, combining a hilariously written tale about the theft of a Tonka truck from Toys R Us with southern fried, well played swagger. “World Murderer” is a sweltering, doom-inflected slow-burner, lyrically focusing itself around a comically clichéd narrative about a beast sent from the most hellish recesses of space to destroy entire galaxies. The Motörhead-flavoured “Reaper” is one of the most electrifying moments here on which Stuart Nippard grizzles “Nothing, nothing, means anything at all, so don’t spend all you fucking time dreaming about getting more!”. “Fabled Succubus” has a kind of twisted reverence for the occult and sacrificial practices, and 11-and-a-half minute closer “No Tomorrow” is filled to the brim with a memorably heavy riff and passages of hypnotic, cosmic spaciousness.
Bad Guynaecology offers nothing in terms of high-brow giggles or particular originality, but then of course, that’s not really the point. Albums like it have existed before and they will, no doubt, exist again. In order to get to the root of the enjoyment of this Bad Guynaecology, you have to conjure up mental images of that chalet at ATP in 2008; Jared Warren from The Melvins shoving his way to the front of the crowd, or beer bottles flung towards single-glazed windows without a care in the world as to whether they actually smash them or not. That atmosphere is the modus operandi at work here, and more often than not, it works.