Sometimes contrast is the best way to convey emotion. Often the most beautiful things are in black and white, where polar opposites work with and against each other to form a final piece. For years musicians have worked within this mind frame, using opposites to contrast and, overall, convey emotion. From loud / soft dynamics that were employed by 90s alt rock legends like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins to artists like Elliot Smith who used gorgeous acoustic instrumentation to tell much, much darker tales. The new single, Zombie, from Bad Pony works in this schizophrenic realm – in the end, to searing effect.
Fueled by guilt, frustration and, apparently, little to no Ritalin, Bad Pony are wild on Zombie, playing with dynamics and some very clever instrumentation to piece together something that is extremely ballsy.
In a way, Zombie is all over the place, but this is only exciting, never aloof. The band play with dynamics of tight, intense bursts of instrumentation, interspersed with spacious, pretty passages, led mostly by singer Jarred Young’s vocals which meander between falsetto and all-out bawls. Speaking of the track’s inspiration, Young remembers that, “Zombie is lyrically dark and quite personal. It was written at a time last year where I was really burning at both ends. Writing it was my way of processing frustration, blame, exhaustion and finally accepting guilt for the mistakes I made.”
Throughout the tune, the shadowy themes of guilt and frustration are palpable, particularly as Young reaches his higher register. Sounding a little like Foals‘ Yannis Philippakis in parts, Young really makes you feel the emotion.
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The instrumentation is equally restless. There are some elements of math rock in the intricate rhythms and tight dynamics, and some sharp, snaking guitar work really reinforces that Foals influence. You wouldn’t call it a slow burner, but it definitely builds to a climax, overlaying parts which are seldom repeated until the song peaks. There is some absolutely brutal tremolo picking lead guitar, underlined by vicious, open strumming. If you flick between start and finish, you really see just how much the song progresses, sweeping from a pretty indie rock tune to an all out rock ‘n’ roll assault.
The track is an exciting indication for what is to come for the band who seem hell-bent on keeping it fresh and changing things up: “The songs from [their latest EP] Limbo were written over a period of three years and we wrote Zombie last year, so it’s pretty new. We don’t really think it’s necessary to pigeonhole ourselves into a certain genre either. We love playing different styles and try to do that whilst maintaining a certain “bad-ponyness” within our songwriting.”
They seem like a band who can’t sit still, and when they can focus their intensity and fervor into something defined like Zombie, they reap the rewards. They’re basically the rock band equivalent of an ADHD kid, and there ain’t no shame in that.