God Is Luck, the new record from Sean Sprecher’s Bad History Month project, seemingly begins mid-note, as if the music was already being played as you stumbled upon its opening track. It’s a pertinent start-point because, in many ways, God Is Luck exists firmly within that realm, many of the songs pulled directly from improvisation before being twisted into the mysterious shapes we find here on the finished record. Recorded between the summer of 2020 and the summer of 2022, God Is Luck is an exercise in artistic freedom. The songs came quickly and easily by design, the whole point of the record and the approach to simply let go.
The third Bad History Month LP – following the Pitchfork-championed Old Blues (2020) – where aspects of the new album mirror the shape of Sprecher’s previous work, its creation was an altogether different experience for the Philadelphia-via-Boston songwriter. He describes it as a collaboration with ‘luck’, the freeform nature of the recording resulting in a process that felt “fun and easy and fearless in a way that recording had never been.”
Where Old Blues was, at its core, a record about self-forgiveness, the fourteen-song God Is Luck LP once again sets out to reframe the world as Sprecher has so often seen it, this time delving into what good can come to us when we let go of the reins and choose to see the good in things rather than giving negative feelings equal ground. “It’s an apt metaphor for how to live a happier life, which informed the ideas in songs,” Sprecher says of the new album. “A person can choose a perspective on any situation and, given that all circumstances have positive and negative aspects, a person can frame their situation as lucky. The highest magic is the alchemy of changing your perspective to always feel lucky.”
Musically, God Is Luck once again mines Sprecher’s unique and enigmatic brain. Songs arrive distorted and shrouded in cloud before they’re twisted and bent into whole new shapes, sometimes pretty but oftentimes ominous and fully charged, like a storm drifting in on the horizon. “I recorded the guitar and voice and then made a big mess of drums, guitars, and basses and then chopped the chaff and kept the accidental diamonds,” Sean says of his process.
‘Touch The Riff’ drifts between both of these moods, a flurry of thoughts tumbling out in the morning shower, a dizzying journey through the razor edge of love and infatuation; “The fire of connection vs the steam off a weak cup of coffee.” One of the album’s more plaintive moments, it’s held together by shuffles of off-beat percussion and a skewed backdrop that just about remains solid enough to prop up Sprecher’s words as they dance through the shadows.
The opening title track is equally confounding, ill-fitting puzzle pieces of jagged guitars and powerful drums, crammed into place just long enough to form a picture, while always threatening to completely collapse in on itself. “This song is about walking around in the redwoods feeling angry about nothing, missing out on the beauty, knowing it, doing it again,” Sprecher adds.
Elsewhere, ‘Summer of 2069’ ploughs headlong through twelve minutes of dense and dark instrumentation, the whole thing crumbling away piece by piece until there’s nowhere else for it to go but disappear into the ether, while the fleeting almost-beauty of ‘Winter Window’ is suitably frosty. Wrapped up in the greyness of the season, the track details the gratefulness of a nice thing happening through the prism of the fleeting beauty of a snowstorm. “Walking through the snowstorm, feeling grateful for the night, and feeling lucky in my life,” Sprecher sings as the song wraps up within two-and-a-half minutes.
“God is Luck means you can control reality by choosing your perspective to always see the luck, which makes you the god of your own reality,” Sean Sprecher says of his latest record. With that notion at its core, Bad History Month’s latest adventure finds twisted new ways to tell age-old tales. Even in its most fearless compositions, buried within dense fog, it strives for goodness; freedom from fear, love for friends, surrounding yourself with those who inspire.
“Any circumstance can be transformed into gold with the simple catalyst of gratitude,” Sean says in conclusion. “You can carve out all the shit and leave the beautiful lucky moments that you could never have planned. You have the power to reframe your circumstances and bring the beauty and luck in your life to the forefront of your perspective. Transforming reality with gratitude is a godlike power.”
bio: Tom Johnson
photo credit: Ben Rector