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My one and only previous encounter with Bad Touch was when their second album, ‘Truth Be Told’, arrived for review, which I described as: “…one big slap of pastiche. Well executed, and good-sounding pastiche but, at the same time, it's all inescapably derivative.” Now their fourth full-lengther is upon us, ‘Kiss the Sky’. I can’t help but have Alan Partridge in my head at this point - they are from Norwich, after all - after he lands the Hamilton’s Water Breaks gig… “Kiss my face!” But it’s the sky they’re kissing here… for some reason. A Hendrix reference, presumably.

Previously, they described their style simply as “rock”, but now they’ve been elevated to be part of the New Wave of Classic Rock scene, apparently. Okay, that’s a thing now, is it? It doesn’t surprise me, given the incessant deluge of retro rock regurgitators that seem to be forever rearing their heads. In fact, this has been the case for so long, that surely we’re currently within an age of the New New New New Wave of Classic Rock? Either way, New Wave or not, these guys have an image and sound that remains firmly rooted in the 80s, so there’s discernibly been zero intent or will to update or progress the genre’s decades old idioms. Or their own sound. As such, my assessment of their 2016 work applies here, too. Further pastiche, further regurgitation, but all very well executed.

Recorded, produced and mixed at Rockfield studios, the general sound of the album is pretty good, even if the guitars are a tad anaemic at times - tonally and in terms of gain (ironic for a band signed to Marshall Records). This is more noticeable when the guitars are too high (which is often) in the mix. If you’re writing guitar centric music, then you need to ensure your sound is one that can carry all the songs. And the songs are well written, I have to say, even if it’s pastiche overload and unashamed worship of music from a long gone decade. Clichés are abound throughout, with each and every paradigmatic track sounding like it’s been lifted right out of the ‘How to Write a Classic Rock song’ manual. Such a manual must exist, right? There’s so many of these damn bands around these days.

This Norwich bunch are definitely still more Bad Touch than the Midas Touch, but I guess we live in an entirely different era of the music industry. Bands who were originally playing this sort of stuff… well, I guess bands who were pioneering this sort of stuff and helping to shape the genre, were able to go gold in the 80s. Not now, of course. Still, it’s good to have the likes of Bad Touch flying the flag for rock of yore, even if ‘Kiss the Sky’ is a sideways step in their ever-derivative oeuvre.
Marshall Records
Review by Mark Holmes
19th June 2020
1) Come a Little Closer
2) I Get High
3) Let Go; 4) Strut
5) I've Got the Music in Me
6) Can You Save Me
7) Kiss the Sky
8) See You Again; 9) Before I Die
10) Read All About It
11) Too Much of a Good Thing
12) Sun and the Moon
13) Something About Your Kiss
"This Norwich bunch are definitely still more Bad Touch than the Midas Touch..."