The (not quite) eponymous track of Leon Bridges’ sophomore album Bad Bad News is glorious, jazzy, house-inflected funk. Driving drums, deliciously groovy bassline, and infectious melodies, with an uplifting, celebratory chorus. Taken as a whole, it’s an unquestionable dancefloor filler, and a bonafide summer anthem.
It’s a fascinating change of tempo for Bridges who sung his way to a Grammy nomination with a blend gospel and soul on his debut album, Coming Home. That same artist is still present throughout his follow up Good Thing, like on the twinkling, impossibly beautiful opener Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand – some of the best soul 2018 has yet produced.
But the album is constantly tugging at the listeners’ hips. Bad Bad News, Shy, Lions – the album has rhythmic foundation absent from the largely acoustic Coming Home. This showcase of groove is one of the biggest revelations from Good Thing, a sense of playful energy we hope Bridges explores further in subsequent projects.
Fittingly, it’s the moments where he drifts away from this groove where the album unfortunately drags. Beyond and especially Forgive You are the worst kind of utterly forgettable ballads, the latter of which sounds like it’s taken some bad signposts from the Snow Patrol catalogue.
Not that there aren’t some strong moments in the slow jams. Mrs. wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the track list for Coming Home, while album closer Georgia To Texas is a (largely successful) exploration of the blues for Bridges.
Bridges has said of the album that it has allowed him to showcase his influences and artistry. And ultimately, it does exactly that. Good Thing sounds like a man enjoying himself musically, a fun showcase of Leon Bridges’ varied musical influences. From soul and jazz to pop and disco (see the fun interpolation of The Whispers classic It’s A Love Thing on If It Feels Good). It tries to do a lot of things – some of them exceptionally well – but too many of tracks here feel like missed opportunities.