Little Kid – “Bad Energy”
Little Kid announced their new album A Million Easy Payments in November with the release of “Something To Say.” Today the artfully folky Ontario indie band is back with a slow-burn winner from the new LP. “Bad Energy” spans seven and a half minutes, building gradually into a sort of lo-fi Wilco groove before unexpectedly cutting off like the Sopranos finale.
The band’s Kenny Boothby had a lot to say on this one, and as he explains, Bob Dylan was a key inspiration:
“Bad Energy” is a song with many verses. Each verse talks about the concept of “bad energy” from a different angle. My overall goal with this song was to implicate Christianity – or, at least, the twisted, Americanized version of it that I grew up with – in a lot of the evil going on in our world: war, genocide, rape culture, capitalist greed, resource exploitation, climate change… There is some personal stuff in there, and some pretty universal stuff.
I was pretty preoccupied with form when I wrote this one (and the other long ones on the record), and I think I was pulling a lot from Bob Dylan’s approach to his longest, most repetitive songs. David Byrne summed it up well: Dylan lifted the style of his “epic songs… from old folk ballads with their many many verses, but then he added a genetic mutation to the form — surreal imagery and metaphors rather than the traditional narratives of the old ballads” (from this Stereogum feature on Bob’s 80th birthday). I think Gillian Welch’s “I Dream A Highway” (my favourite song) might do this even better than Dylan’s best ones did.
Dylan paints some incredible pictures in those long folk songs, but I often find his rhymes unsatisfying. Or maybe too satisfying. I don’t like perfect rhymes. I spent a lot of time working as many imperfect internal rhymes as possible into each line of this song. It was a rewarding process, but it may have ruined songwriting for me because I no longer feel content rhyming only the last word of each line. Finishing songs has become much harder since I wrote “Bad Energy”… But I’m proud of what I was able to do with this one, and it’s generally the first song people talk about when they hear the new album.
A Million Easy Payments is out 2/23 on Orindal in the US & Gold Day in the UK. Pre-order it here.