Bad Juju – Hidden Desire EP (Review)

Bad Juju have recently released their debut EP, titled Hidden Desire, and are coming off several hot live shows, playing at the UNFD Changes Showcase, and supporting Trophy Eyes on their recent show at The Workers Club. They also supported Trophy Eyes on their regional dates in May, joined Void Of Vision at their Howler show to celebrate Disturbia, and supported Dream On Dreamer last month.

They unofficially launched the EP on Friday at The Workers Club, and although their crowd wasn’t huge, people got into it. I had listened to the EP myself earlier that day and was digging it, and when seeing them live I noticed that I was having a tough time standing still. They really made me want to move, and I could see from their live performance that there is a lot of passion behind their music. This all made me want to take a deeper look at the release, and give it the attention it deserves. Bad Juju are from Melbourne, and are made up of Russell Holland (Vocals), Abe Miller (Guitar), Armarin Saengsri (Guitar), Matthew John (Bass), and Nick Lucas (Drums).

Bad Juju label themselves as grunge/rock/punk, and that is violently evident within the first few notes of Hidden Desire‘s opening track, “Rejects”. The instrumentals immediately make you want to dance, and I honestly can’t stop my knee from bopping as I listen to this. I love the vocals in this song, especially with the distant effects they put on it at times. It works perfectly for the verses, and the chorus is melodic punk rock at its finest.

The instrumentals compliment the vocals perfectly. They are grungey and edgy at times, but also have an underlying tone of melancholy. The song lyrically is quite sad, and it seems to be about struggling to be happy with someone. A lifetime of being disappointed and rejected injects you with resilience, but it also makes you feel extremely vulnerable whenever you open yourself up, and this is what this song is mainly about. Being with someone, but not allowing yourself to be happy because you are too scared of something bad that could happen. The pain and emotion that comes with this is expressed perfectly through the music, and it is a very gloomy song.

Track two is a Triple J favourite and the most acclaimed single from the EP: “Moving On”. It takes more of a softer approach in the verses, and features a very catchy chorus. This song is more upbeat and positive, as it talks about getting yourself out of a rut. I personally relate greatly to the idea of not having a clue what is going on in life, and this song touches on that. After going through some shit you have to pick yourself up and move on.

“It’s time to change my ways, oh yeah it’s time to move on.
It’s time to look on the flipside baby we’ve got to get away from here.”

This song just makes you feel like a better human just for listening to it. It’s a pick me up when you’re down, and is also a swift kick in the arse to get yourself into gear. The lighter toned guitars and less heavy drums and bass really make the whole thing seem very lighthearted, and makes you feel like you can rise above whatever you have going on in your life. Changing your ways for the best, and making sure you live in a mentally healthy way is important, and this song really rubs in that message.

 

“Bloom” has a huge punk sound, with some almost anthemic instrumentals at times. I adore how they have mixed the vocals in this song, as it sounds somewhat distant and echoing. With the vocals like this and the lyrical content that is evident, it appears this song is somewhat of a tribute to friends of old. Whether they passed away or have simply moved on with their lives, it speaks of missing them. The huge emotional chorus really hammers this home, and the whole song is filled with reminiscing, and yearning for the old days.

Youth is blissful and brief, and this song touches on that, as well as their love for their friends. The vocals of Russell are filled with emotion, and I can picture people standing with their arms around each other at gigs, singing along passionately. Imagining the story behind this song is quite sad, as I’m seeing someone standing on a hill looking up at the clouds. They are in a state of limbo as they aren’t able to move on, and all they can think about is the past. They miss the old days, and they miss their friends. They stare up at the gloomy grey sky and remember what once was.

 

“Pressure” turns the heat back up, and launches straight into the spicy fast punk verses. The vocals take somewhat of an emo turn for this track, and are much more grungey than other tracks. The dancing shoes are firmly on for this song, as the song speaks about trying to understand what is going on inside someone’s head.

It talks about the pressures that people can put on each other in a relationship, whether that is platonic or romantic, and the toll that can take emotionally. It can be overwhelming at times, and that is what this song is about. You need to take time to make sure that you are okay, as well as looking out for everyone else, and if you are putting too much pressure on a situation then it clearly isn’t going to turn out.

Can you feel the pressure, pushing on your bones.
It’s creeping up inside you and it’s gonna explode.”

This song is structured perfectly. The screams transfer to cleans like its nothing, and every single instrumental piece seems to be exactly where it needs to be. The chorus is catchy, and the verses are hard and heart filled. The guitars in particular are ringing throughout like a voice in the back of your head, reminding you that they’re constantly there. This is just a great piece of music.

 

The penultimate track “Run Away” makes your hips move. The verses are soft and slow, putting focus on the clean vocals and showing off the talent of Russell. The choruses are assertive and passionate. And the whole song makes you want to dance and sing. People will be jumping over each other to sing along to this one live, and once people know it it will be something special. The pacing is good fun with this song, and it keeps you on your toes as it is constantly changing, right up until a big breakdown towards the end.

“Run Away” is about growing up, and the struggle that is life. It’s about being honest with yourself, and with others, about how you are feeling, so that you can live properly. Getting bogged down by the problems of surviving in the modern world is common, but if you’re hiding who you really are from society, then what kind of life is that? Running away from how you’re feeling isn’t an option.

The final track “Healer” is a very moody and wistful song. It’s very soft, instrumentally and vocally, and is filled with pain and sadness. It is about trying to help a friend that is hurting, and how hard that is, especially when they are hardly willing to help themselves. You look at them as they stand in front of you, they hide it well but you can see the pain in their eyes. You can see that they are struggling. On the outside they are smiling, but on the inside they are bleeding.

You feel hopeless and don’t know how to help. All you want is for them to feel better. The chorus really dips into the emotions of such a thing, as you get more and more desperate to help. They are near giving up. To love someone when they cannot even love themselves must be horrible, and I can’t imagine the pain that one must feel when writing a song like this. It’s very personal and honest and beautiful.

“I can see you fading, and we can see you hurting, but I can be your remedy, I wish you could see what I see.” 

Hidden Desire is a huge debut release, and displays the emotion and melodies of a band far more experienced than theirs. It touches on themes of friendship, relationships, mental illness, youth, and is ultimately about taking a more positive look at things, and trying to get through the hard times. Instrumentally it is rather unique, showing off a cool musical mix of punk, grunge, and hardcore, and can make you want to mosh just as much as it makes you want to dance. It’s a well rounded release, and is one that will take Bad Juju places.

 

Bad Juju - Hidden Desire
  • EP Rating
    10
The Good

Strong punk/grunge sound. Solid vocals, cleans and screams both enjoyable. Songs very well structured, EP flows through very well.

The Bad
1010
Josh Hockey

Melbourne based music journalist who is ridiculously passionate about music, and spends every possible moment listening to it, seeing shows, and of course wearing the merch.

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