Bad Books combines the singing and songwriting talents of Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull and solo artist Kevin Devine. Alternating reflective indie rock and anxious power pop, both with crisp vocal harmonies, the project's self-titled debut appeared in 2010. Following a hiatus, the band's third album, 2019's III, traded their rhythm section for an organ and a more cinematic sound.
After serving as opening acts on Brand New's 2007 tour, Hull and Devine began working together in spurts. They released a split EP in January 2010 shortly before launching the collaborative Bad Books. Also featuring bassist Jonathan Corley, drummer Ben Homola, and Manchester Orchestra's Chris Freeman, their debut album, Bad Books, arrived later in 2010 via Favorite Gentlemen and Razor & Tie. It landed on the Billboard 200, reaching number 55. With additional help from another Manchester Orchestra member, Robert McDowell, Bad Books' second album, II, was released by Favorite Gentlemen and Triple Crown Records in 2012. It included the song "Forest Whitaker," which made it onto an episode of the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
Bad Books soon went on hiatus as Devine released a pair of albums -- the solo effort Bulldozer and full-band production Bubblegum -- on the same day in October of 2013, and Manchester Orchestra issued the companion albums Cope and Hope (an acoustic reimagining) in 2014. Devine put out two more full-lengths and Manchester Orchestra released 2017's A Black Mile to the Surface before Bad Books reconvened for a third record. As the trio of Hull, Devine, and McDowell, they omitted drums and bass, opting for harmonic atmosphere on the Ethan Gruska-produced III. It arrived on Loma Vista in 2019. ~ Marcy Donelson