My conclusion of Turn to Red, the first Takeovers album, was that even though less than half of the tracks made the playlist, the album as a whole was pretty decent. For Robert Pollard and Chris Slusarenko's sophomore effort, there is less quirkiness and more rock n' roll. However, the real difference between Turn to Red and Bad Football is that Bad Football is front-stacked, and shelves the toss-offs together at the end of the disc, whereas Turn to Red mixed them in with the rest of the album. That being said, the percentage of tracks making the playlist this time around has increased...
You're At It starts things off. A solid intro, the track sets the tone for a more serious effort, and has the memorable line "This form of suicide's not quick enough, what else you got?" It is followed by the wonderfully strange Little Green Onion Man, which a) gets its own EP, b) contains the words "bad football", c) has a great riff throughout the verses, and d) includes one of Pollard's stranger vocals. It is a standout, but not even among the album's three best tracks.
Father's Favorite Temperature has a bit of a classic rock vibe (maybe even southern rock), and is proof that Pollard can be a outstanding singer when he wants to be. Molly & Zack slows things down, and is a bit of a throwback to the more acoustic Guided By Voices tracks, and I can't help but smile when I hear lyrics like "Space stationships arrive" or "Youmans bouncin' off one per other like eated up Molly-cues". The fifth track, Pretty Not Bad, may be the album's best song with its Elvis Costello's Pump It Up-like riff, and rock anthem chorus. Throw in some guitar solos and self-referentiality ("I wrote a song and I like it/called 'Pretty Not Bad'") and this one alone is worth the price of admission.
The jolly Smokestack Bellowing Stars has grown on me after repeated listens. The lyrics listed in the liner notes of the album simply say "Great lyrics", and the simple chorus of "Never hitch a ride with those guys baby" is incredibly catchy. The mellow pop tunes continue with I Can See My Dog. However, The Jester of Helpmeat can best be summed up as a messed up version of Pimple Zoo (replace "Sometimes I get the feeling that you don't want me around" with "The Jester of Helpmeat is not fucking around"). It is also the start of a string of odder tracks, with Kicks at the Gym having Pollard almost yelling over a heavy driven riff, and Music for Us featuring the return of Rich Turiel, the "narrator" of Turn to Red, and some strange singing.
The Year Nobody Died is generally forgettable, and when things look like Bad Football is going to end on a whimper, it is finished with the fuzz-rock My Will. Is Bad Football better than Turn to Red, I would say so. However, this is an album where after seven tracks I started thinking The Takeovers were going to complete a perfect album, but then four consecutive tracks sort of ruined it. Don't get me wrong, tracks Kicks at the Gym and Music for Us add tons of character to an album, but I almost wished this one included some more You're At It's and Pretty Not Bad's.
Tracklisting (songs in bold make the playlist):
01 You're At It
02 Little Green Onion Man
03 Father's Favorite Temperature
04 Molly & Zack
05 Pretty Not Bad
06 Smokestack Bellowing Stars
07 I Can See My Dog
08 The Jester of Helpmeat
09 Kicks at the Gym
10 Music for Us
11 The Year Nobody Died
12 My Will