The Ready Set’s lengthy wait between album releases is finally over. With the brilliant I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming four years in the rearview and fan anticipation for another full length reaching back over two years, a lot was riding on The Bad & The Better. Luckily for us the man behind the moniker, Jordan Witzigreuter, rose to the occasion and turned over an album that beats every expectation ever put on it.
Everything begins with “Higher”. The first single from the album, and with good reason, it’s a radio pop tune containing a good note to start the album out on. Lyrics proclaim the story of finding the success you’ve been chasing. Throw in a confusingly memorable music video, and you’ve got the makings for a pretty successful single.
Stepping up to the plate next are two tracks that aren’t so unfamiliar, due to the fact that they were previously released on the complementary Sorry, Sorry EP. “Freakin’ Me Out” and “Are We Happy Now?” fit well with the rest of the tracklist and draw your interest in even further. While “Freakin’ Me Out” is a song for fun nights and good memories, “Are We Happy Now?” dives into a bit of a reverie. While the song touches on the heavy matter of unattainable happiness, it manages to never actually bring you down. This is a wonder we have yet to find an explanation for.
“Are We Happy Now?” takes you into “Fangz”, a song which completely deviates from any path The Ready Set has ever followed. It would feel right at home on a Breathe Carolina release, and makes you wonder how much influence the frequent tour mates have had on Witzigreuter. Our favorite aspect of the song, however, is the way it was made. The frontman has noted that the song was created almost entirely in the manner ‘09’s Tantrum Castle was created. The back to the roots feel is duly noted, and adds a nice aspect to the album.
“Carry Me Home” is essentially a summary of The Bad & The Better as a whole. Catchy, fun, and feeling like sunshine, the track marches right into your head and plants roots. Good luck getting “Shut up, don’t you speak. You do this to me every week,” out of your head over the next month.
After “Carry Me Home” wraps up, “Luxury” takes the spotlight. Breezy and relaxed, the phenomenal song showcases Witzigreuter’s strongest talent. The vocals on this appreciative melody truly are a luxury. His laid back tone fits the track with as much ease as the song contains, all the while his pitch reaches a near flawless stride.
From there, “Bitter and the Sweetness” takes charge. The closest thing to a title track the album has, it’s just as strong as you’d expect it to be with an incomparable melody, fantastically well written lyrics and a sugar sweet pop sound to back it up. Witzigreuter might mention “we’ve got time to make mistakes”, but he certainly doesn’t take the time to do so on this song.
“Bleeding” is easily one of the greatest songs to ever be recorded. It enters your speakers with a quick piano bit which breaks right into the electronic based pop you’ve been hearing. Everything about the song is at the top of its game, from the vocal delivery to the infectious beat to the incomparable chorus - which also happens to be the greatest one on the album.
And then there’s “Castaway”. The breath-taking song is the best of the eleven The Bad & The Better offers up. Slower than the rest, but with plenty of pop flair to keep it out of ballad territory, you may want to grab a seat for this one. Allow yourself to absorb every last note of the dazzling song. With some of Witzigreuter’s best lyrics to date and a perfectly timed melody, “Castaway” has a power we hadn't seen from The Ready Set yet. In a way that’s rarely ever done, it forms a strong connection with its listener. This connection is sure to give a helping hand to anyone in need, and lead to a tight knit family feeling across The Ready Set’s fanbase. Bottom line, this song will help people. Hell, it might even save a life.
Closing out the tracklist is “Give My Your Hand (Best Song Ever)”. This song serves as a blast from the past, as it was released in May of 2012. While it’s a little dated, and doesn’t quite fit everything else The Ready Set has left on the table here, it’s still a phenomenal track and a good closer to a happy album. Give The Ready Set your hand and let him show you what good music really is.