Purple - Bodacious album review

Thrillingly effervescent pop-punk from youthful Texan trio.

Purple band photograph

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Memorably used in the 1989 film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the word ‘bodacious’ was defined by Hollywood thespian Keanu Reeves as meaning “outstanding, extraordinary, almost supernatural in quality”. As such, to utilise Bill & Ted parlance once more, ‘bodacious’ is a most excellent, and entirely apposite, label to pin upon the second album from Texas’s Purple. Because Bodacious, the follow-up to 2014’s spunky, raucous 409, is an irreverent, quirky tangle of heavy-lidded slacker pop, noisy glitter punk and gleefully bratty attitude, and wholly irresistible listening.

If you’re over 40, Purple sound – in the nicest possible way – exhausting, gleefully sucking in 50 years of cultural history and spitting out ideas faster than the average human brain can process them. If you’re under 25 you’ll just be jealous that your life isn’t, and never will be, this much fun.

For those seeking musical reference points we could point you in the direction of a salad of Goo-era Sonic Youth, Ash, Cibo Matto, Pixies and Beastie Boys; 25 years ago Purple would have been ‘inkie’ music paper cover stars on a monthly basis. But even then you’ll be unprepared for the trio’s dizzying, disorienting ram-raids through punk’n’roll history.

Take Mini Van, a sassy, sleazy romp which pulls together funk, punk and metal riffs, hip-hop fronting, ‘Whoo-Ha’ backing grunts and boy/girl vocal trade-offs in under three minutes. Or Bliss, which starts out all dreamy and woozy but ends with star-of-the-show drummer/vocalist Hanna Brewer in full-on, shouty, pouty mode. Or the sudden, inexplicable segue into dub-reggae in the second half of the punky Money. Everywhere, there are glorious, shiny pop hooks, from the ultra-perky title track (on which Brewer croons ‘You make me feel different’) to the Weezer-esque Geniva in which guitarist/vocalist Taylor Busby compares the sensation of infatuation to ‘huffin’ gasoline’. That light-headed, intoxicating feeling could also apply for anyone listening in here.

If Dazed And Confused/Everybody Wants Some!! director Richard Linklater isn’t already making a film about Purple, he really should be, because there’s genuine star quality amid their ramshackle, playful collision-pop. In the current accelerated hype-and-discard blog culture, it’s increasingly difficult for young bands to carve out a meaningful, sustainable profile. But even if Purple burn out fast they will have left a fabulously messy mark on the decade’s music scene. A riot worth getting caught up in.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.