I’m Being Good – A Constellation of Bad Ideas
There’s something to be said for sticking to your guns, something which I’m Being Good seem all too aware of. Formed in 1989, the band have seen contemporaries come and go while they’ve played the long game. I’m Being Good was originally the bedroom vision of guitarist/vocalist Andrew Clare (also of Bald Mermaid). This was eventually fleshed out into a band. Seeing several shifts in the line up, they have settled into an established three piece.
Their crooked art-punk has always maintained a sea sick discordance.
This is evidenced immediately on the opening track of new album ‘A Constellation of Bad Ideas’. The guitars on Furniture With Feet slide around so much they sound like they’ll fall out of the speakers. It’s like a huge creaking ship, swaying and crashing into waves of drums. Clare’s vocal is eccentric, sung with a bizarre vibrato before developing into a visceral roar. The drums and bass of long time cohorts Tom Barnes and Stuart O’Hare are as punishing as ever. It all culminates in a pummelling and violent ending.
Monotasker is more upbeat but no less deranged. It sits somewhere between Truman’s Water and The Jesus Lizard. Clare’s unhinged, distorted vocal is swamped by a killer grooves. The drums chop the sludge into bite size segments and also aid some utterly filthy sounding riffs.
The Modern Lovers provides Slint-esque almost-beauty but I’m Being Good always know how to make things sound nasty. In this case they add that extra note or chord clash. There’s something about Clare’s vocal here that makes him sound like a deranged Graham Coxon. This is a good thing. The addition of some nasty sounding horns only adds to the surreal atmosphere.
There’s nothing we wouldn’t expect here, but then you have to know I’m Being Good to expect it.
The brilliantly titled Dead Man’s Brain Remembers Football is an expansive and tense affair. Completely instrumental, there’s a constant, almost militaristic, pulse that runs throughout. It slips between a choppy chug and a woozy phrase, adding variations throughout before it ultimately winds down.
They ramp things up on the almost jaunty instrumental Do The Math. It indulges in an utterly ridiculous hook over the first half that Truman’s Water would be proud of, before embracing their inner Sonic Youth with a slow, quite beautiful section. Naturally this doesn’t last and they kick back into the madness. Fittingly it ends with the band audibly bursting into laughter at the ridiculousness of it all.
The bass on Sustainable Transparency lurches throughout, while Clare varies the dynamics, there are moments of sparse beauty as well as staccato jabs and matching vocals. The drums flail, pull and push, again adding a Slint-like quality.
The moody Brown Tower has a similar feel although it embraces a sinister almost doom aesthetic. Notes are drawn out, phrases are accentuated with the guitar strummed behind the nut.
Whilst they allow things to breathe there is that contradictorily claustrophobic, thick low end atmosphere that I’m Being Good have simply mastered.
Just as everything appears to have wound down the band launch into an awesome frenzy. Of course, they have this absolutely under control, with jagged stop starts.
They close the album with the brooding Bucolic Vortex which contains the album title in the lyrics. There are moments where high pitched staccato stabs worthy of the Psycho shower scene intersect the relative calm.
With ‘A Constellation of Bad Ideas’ I’m Being Good refuse to conform to trends. They only do so to their own established aesthetic and more power to them for that.
‘A Constellation of Bad Ideas’ is released on their own, aptly titled label, Infinite Chug on 11th September. With the album having been initially released in November last year, it is getting something of a reboot this month. The perfect excuse for us to finally get around to writing about it!
You may enjoy this if you like: Truman’s Water, Bilge Pump, Slint, Sonic Youth, Sweet Williams