Bellhead is a post-punk duo from Chicago that brings the dirtiest bass lines and danceable tracks in their newest EP, ‘Good Intentions.’ To me, the name of the EP comes layered in sarcasm, as the stories told through music are delivered with evil intent. Stalkers, sirens at sea, and pure nihilistic fun have brought me to understand the intent is not so comforting. Though elements of pop are embraced in the songwriting, the production maintains a minimalist approach that rejects fillers/unnecessary walls of sound.
The opening track Bad Taste introduces the EP with a four on the floor beat and low guttural vocals that describe the individual in question, “he says he’s a good man, doesn’t make it true” and “does he only want what he can’t have?” Even with the subject matter of stalking, I want to get up and dance to this. The chorus guitars contain an unexpected surprise that remind me of the atmospheric quality of various Nine Inch Nails tracks.
The second song opens with guitars that pivot to a different effect once the verse begins, and the mood is that of a classic horror movie. Into the Deep stirs a haunting narrative that conjures the imagery of water as destroyer. If the potential for surf rock is found here, we’re likely to drown. The bridge hits with spoken word and rounds out the song to something akin to hope as the siren is pursued.
Valentine is my personal favorite on the EP. The narrator seems to be pleading with a lover in what seems to be both romantic and tragic in the same breath. The music moves with a particular gothic sway that reminds me of Crying Vessel, and the lyrics are poetry.
Apathy kicks off with distorted guitars and asks ‘so what?’ in a nihilistic way that brings a smile to my face. The admission that ‘it doesn’t matter’ resonates in me a sing-along quality that makes this song an anthem. Crank this one for that righteous punk goodness.
The Love and Rockets cover No Big Deal is pure Bellhead fun. Their take on the song sounds like their own authentic work, which is what quality artists do when they seek to cover a song. The distorted bass shapes the song into something that fits in with their catalog perfectly.
‘Good Intentions’ closes with Drugstore Keri. This song tells the romantic tale where Keri is more of an enabler than love interest. The dirty bass makes for curled lips and movement on the dance floor. The concluding song feels like a cold drink of classic rock, and I love it.
This EP is worth a spin. If you enjoy post-punk songwriting grounded in the potential to dance, Bellhead is definitely something to consider. ‘Good Intentions’ will leave you craving more of the bad taste it’s gonna leave in your mouth. My only complaint is that I want more!