Little Baby Tendencies – Bad Things

2.14.23 by Zach Mitchell

Vulnerability is an important part of art, but the ratio of vulnerability to anger is the balancing act a lot of modern punk bands find themselves wrestling with.  A vulnerable songwriter is an open wound, all burning and aching with the hope of healing resolution at the end. Sticking the landing, ostensibly, is what separates Great Art from catatonicyouths Instagram posts. Cringe is freeform vulnerability and self -serious artists tend to shy away from anything resembling embarrassment.

This is not to say Memphis punk duo Little Baby Tendencies is “cringey” in the modern sense of the word, but one listen to the self-reflective relationship horror story title track of their debut tape Bad Things will have you contorting your face in some sort of shape as the black metal “I love you daddy” screams enter your ears. Singer/guitarist Haley Ivey and drummer Tyler Harrington have created the kind of brain melting punk tape that walks the vulnerability tightrope with ease. Ivey is one of the most dynamic punk singers I’ve heard in a long time, hitting everything from Jonathan Davis-esque guttural growls to well-placed falsetto highs with ease. The album never feels stale across its 22 minute run time, which is more than I can say about a lot of punk that crosses my purview. Exciting, dynamic music full of left turns.

I keep coming back to their proprietary description of “crybaby punk.” It’s hard to describe the band as anything else once a label like that gets lodged in your brain, but there’s more to LBT than aimless whining. There’s a primal scream therapy type of catharsis on happening in between the guitar slides and drum bashing. Ending the album with a song as bluntly funny as “Burn the Flag!” seems to be an intentional choice. Anti-American jams are as old of a punk trope as any, but after intense screaming about sexual boundaries being broken and a section of the lyrics labeled “an improvisational rant from the point of view of someone who’s lost their mind,” a shout-along song about burning the flag on the Fourth of July feels like a nervous laugh in the face of awkward tension. After songs as intense as “Give Me Ur Coat,” with all of this band’s guts on display, you need a breather. You crave catharsis. Sometimes great punk gives you what you want. Sometimes it just wallops you over the head.

Tape available at your local Little Baby Tendencies show!