Listening to ‘Bad Ideas’ is far from a bad idea

November 1, 2019

Tessa Violet’s album “Bad Ideas” is an indie pop triumph. Fans have been waiting for this album for almost a year, ever since Violet dropped her first single “Crush” back in June 2018. I can honestly say, it was worth the wait. 

The album starts off strong with the first five tracks already released before the rest of the album came out. The “Prelude” track was originally released as a “crush teaser” on Violet’s Facebook page. “Prelude” starts off slow, with the sounds of an acoustic guitar and light vocals. The lyrics highlight Violet’s insecurities—as does much of the album. The end changes, however, kicking up the tempo and vibe, leading seamlessly into “Crush.” 

The next four tracks—“Crush,” “Bad Ideas,” “I Like (the Idea of) You” and “Games”—had all been released as singles prior to the album’s release. “Games” is easily the best single, and the best song on the album. She calls out someone who keeps trying to play her and send her mixed signals, telling him that she’s not going to put up with it anymore. Make a decision, buddy. 

The structure of the album is incredible. For each slower song, there’s a fast paced one nearby to balance it out. Violet wants you in your feelings but also having a good time. She expressed on an Instagram story before release day that listening to the album in order is critical to appreciating it as a work of art. She’s right. 

This idea fits with the order of the early songs. Each of these tracks are about pining for someone else, about knowing this relationship would be a mess but wanting to leap into it anyway. She takes a turn with the sixth song on the album, starting to resent these emotions rather than embracing them.

Most of Violet’s older work was very somber, and she has really made the push not to go as heavy as she did in the past. However, the quality of lyrics has not diminished. “Feelin” has some of the best lyrics from the album. In the second verse, she sings, “And I hate that you affect the way I feel at all, I don’t deserve to find my footing just to fall.” As if that isn’t heartbreaking enough, she continues with “Now, voice, I don’t need you to crack, no tellin’ what you might say that I can’t take back. And I don’t think I can open up the door. I’m afraid to give a voice to what I’m wanting for.” 

Violet immediately follows “Feelin” with “Words Ain’t Enough,” the saddest track on the album. She expresses her desire for a lover who will actually make the effort to love her, not just say that they will. At only two minutes long, the song has very few lyrics, letting the instrumental carry the song rather than the vocals. 

Before you can go too far in your feelings, Violet pulls you out with “Bored.” The feel is upbeat from the opening drum beat. The lyrics are still sad, complementing the two previous tracks with Violet blaming herself for problems rather than those around her. But the words are completely forgotten as the listener jams out to the fast tempo and heavy drum. The lyrics of “Bored” are rather sad, but the vibe is so high that it’s easy to look past them. It reminds me most of the “After Laughter” album by Paramore, where the band sings about being depressed over light production and instrumentation. It reveals the most about Violet as a person, yet it is still one of the lightest songs on the album. This song is an absolute banger, despite the dark lyrics. Her faster songs are usually marked with little idiosyncrasies in the production, but this one is perhaps Violet’s most conventional song.  

“Wishful Drinking” starts with unconventional sounds. Featuring a record scratch noise and a beat that doesn’t necessarily fit with the tune of the lyrics, this song just barely works. It only functions because no element of the song competes with the other to be the forefront—instead, there is no forefront. This song is a fitting choice to follow “Bored,” where Violet sings that she is “bored of what’s inside of [her] cup.” With this song she explores the dangers of what was in her cup, the ability it gives her to put on a smiling face. She’s wishing to be genuinely happy, rather than just not sad when she’s drunk.

Violet continues this theme with “Honest.” She’s the most open with this track on the album, diving deep into her struggles and her lack of happiness. She leads with “I mostly work from wanting to be wanted” and follows with “I’m not doing well” which is repeated throughout the song. This is the longest song on the album, and the track closest to her older work. 

The album closes with “Interlude III.” This song is a plea. With “Interlude III,” Violet begs for someone new, something better in her life. The song feels incomplete, like there should be more to it. It certainly doesn’t feel like the closing an album. If songs are like chapters in a book, then Violet leaves listeners with a cliffhanger. Perhaps she was smart to close with an interlude then, a pause between acts. Her story isn’t quite finished yet. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

This album took Violet years to make, but she has poured her heart and soul into every track. Her passion and dedication shine through in the high quality of every single song on the “Bad Ideas” album. It’s only 32 minutes of music, but 32 minutes everyone should hear.

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