Bad Cop/Bad Cop has done angry. The band’s 2017 full-length, Warriors, was recorded in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.
The message Bad Cop is sending this time around on their third full-length album The Ride is less about wagging your finger at others, or giving the middle one to the Man, than it is about self-love and acceptance. That positivity fuels many of The Ride’s tracks. “Originators,” “Simple Girl,” “Community,” “I Choose,” “Perpetual Motion Machine,” and “The Mirage” exude confidence, gratitude, and compassion. This self-love is tasking the listener with putting a fix on the problems at hand and finding it in themselves to create the life that they want.
Singer Stacey Dee speaks from experience. In 2018 she was hospitalized twice for different ailments, then discovered she had stage one breast cancer at the end of the year. Fortunately it was highly treatable, but the experience was life-altering. Dee captures it with brutal frankness on “Breastless,” whose bright melodies belie the struggle described in the lyrics.
“Certain Kind of Monster” and “Pursuit of Liberty”—both written and sung by bassist Linh Le—are blistering repudiations of the current administration’s treatment of immigrants. The former is an imagined conversation with an ICE agent, and the latter juxtaposes her family’s immigration to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1975 to current events- something she’s never explored musically.
The perspective behind The Ride lends it an undeniable maturity, without losing its power. Recorded throughout much of 2018 and 2019 by Johnny Carey and Fat Mike of the production team D-Composers, the album boasts all of the elements of Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s sound: big guitars, lock-step bass and drums, intricate vocal harmonies, and plenty of attitude. The only difference this time is the attitude is encouraging, not raging. The anger may have taken a back seat on The Ride, but what’s taken its place is even more powerful.