Edwyn Collins: Badbea review – arch punk provocateur ages defiantly


Edwyn Collins’ ninth solo album carries the unmistakable air of a man looking back, lyrically and musically. It’s not just the title track, a lament for the hard lives of the Highlanders in a tiny village that is now “a ruined monument to life and death”. It’s there in Outside, in which fuzzed, frantic Ramones guitars are accompanied by a lyric repeating that band’s old mantra of “I don’t care”. But it’s not the defiance of youth that makes him uncaring: “Now I’m old, I don’t care.” That theme is picked up on Glasgow to London, on which Collins reflects on how there was a time “Ambition drove my life / Now I’m old I must admit I couldn’t give a fuck.”

Edwyn Collins: Badbea album artwork
Edwyn Collins: Badbea album artwork Photograph: PR Handout

That’s not to say this is a recorded equivalent of one of those Grumpy Old Men talking heads’ shows on TV. Even when Collins is excoriating selfishness on It’s All About You, he does so with the same arch beauty he employed back in the Orange Juice days: “The sun was a bright bikini yellow / The sky was a Wedgwood blue / The mood was unspeakably mellow / When you came and spoilt the view.” You couldn’t call Badbea wildly original; it’s filled with references to Collins’s musical touchstones (northern soul; the Velvet Underground) and an explicit melodic link to Big Star’s Feel in I’m OK Jack. But Collins is in fine voice, and it’s always a pleasure to have him back.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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