ALBUM REVIEW: Badflower – This Is How The World Ends
Photo Credit: Jordan Wolfbauer
Los Angeles alternative rock band Badflower are back, staring straight in the face of a sophomore studio album slump and categorically saying “no” with the utmost emotionally raw conviction. The band’s latest LP, This is How The World Ends, serves as the follow-up to Ok, I’m Sick back in 2019, a debut album that dealt with challengingly dark subject matters in suitably comfortable, alt-rock attacking style – notable on the gutsy Ghost. There is certainly a continuation of thought provoking themes on This is How The World Ends, including the heart pounding cinematics and deeply personal story of lead single Family. Badflower are breaking down the barriers and banishing the concept of taboo topics, with an urgent, blood pumping rush on This Is How The World Ends.
Acoustic opener Adolescent Love leans into the narrative of nostalgic teenage memories: being young, free, finding your first love and all the juvenile feelings that come with adolescent infatuation. An emotional number by a band who built the majority of their career on alt-rock bangers, notably x ANA x, Die and Girlfriend, Badflower are living, breathing proof that a rock band can comfortably find their feet with an acoustic number, especially when it opens their hotly anticipated second studio album.
Flowing into a steady stream of singles, Fukbio, Family and Johnny Wants To Fight follow. Fukboi presents a punk guitar driven side to Badflower we’ve rarely seen before, bringing a snappy, short runtime, attacking, aggressive and explicit scream-as-loud-as-you-can choruses, and an ultra fast tempo that charges full punk stream ahead. Family differs dramatically at first, with compelling, cinematic drops falling like a crushing weight all the way through the first two bunches of verses and choruses. When the bridge reaches, vocalist Josh Katz‘s inner uncomfortable turmoil comes pouring out, gut wrenchingly screaming about his strained family and friend ties to extremely painful but raw, resonant effect, singing: “Cause I let you down/And I lost my fucking mind/Then everything got messy/And everyone got angry,” continuing with “I cursed my blood tonight/It happens all the time/Is everyone against me?/Has everyone goddamned me?/What happened to this family?” Latest single Johnny Wants To Fight finishes off this rolling trio of singles with a statement of intent from Johnny, the macho alter ego in control of the story, and how he intends to strut down the Hollywood Strip to “Have some drinks, meet some girls and start some fucking trouble”. Emphasised by a cool swagger and rhythmic swinging guitars, this song exudes the biggest carefree attitude on the album, one that squares up right in the face to Johnny’s confrontational vibe.
The shocking Stalker and the sleek Sasshole are up next. Anarchic, chaotic and sonically crazy, Stalker lets off some serious steam, as Katz’s frenzied vocals hit a new level of high octane energy. Simultaneously, his self-confidence has no bounds, backed by the band’s off the scale instrumentation, which packs an almighty punch with layers, tones and textures that only grow in raucousness. Stalker is shockingly true in its theme, exploring the early effects bullying can have on the development of a person later on in life. Sonically, this standout song is a masterclass in the madness Badflower can bring to the table. Sasshole, on the other hand, has a Royal Blood style level of sophistication right from the start, with hooky guitar riffs and high note hitting – showing off a natural ability to compete with the big rock hitters in the music biz.
Don’t Hate Me, the second single from the album, embraces vulnerability with open arms as part of having some sort of self-awareness and self-critique within yourself, whether that be for better or worse. “Don’t hurt me more than I hurt myself/Just scold me, console me, control me/Oh, I could use some help/But don’t hate me, I’m sad enough,” Katz pleads with himself, or should we say wanting to be someone else, a subject matter the song addresses head on. A confessional, emo-pop outpouring of all the self-absorbed emotions, Don’t Hate Me is a wallowing anthem we can all relate too.
My Funeral brings the album to a close on another strum of gentle acoustic guitar strings, similar to that of earlier songs Tethered, She Knows and opener Adolescent Love. Drenched in claustrophobic darkness from the outset, the track explores how life would continue on after the death of an individual and the consequential ripple effects it has on their loved ones. But light floods in like a breath of fresh air with closing line “Tonight I’ll light a candle and end this stupid ritual,” that, in the long run, speaks a thousand words, as if to say treat others the way you want to be treated, because it will go an even longer way than you may think.
This Is How The World Ends is Badflower’s album of emotional rawness, a true testament to the talents of Josh Katz and co. This record was designed to make you feel the discomfort that Katz endured whilst writing this beautifully disturbing body of work, one that forces you to confront your fears, feelings and emotions, but makes you feel all the more better for it afterwards. This Is How The World Ends is introspective, evocative, brutally honest and one of the best albums of the year so far.
Standout Tracks: Family, Don’t Hate Me, Fukboi, Johnny Wants To Fight, Stalker, Sasshole
For Fans Of: Dead Poet Society, Waterparks.
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood