Beach House, Beach Fossils, Ghost Beach, Dirty Beaches, The Beach Boys. Like bears and crystal, the ‘B’ word tends to get a pretty good look-in when it comes to naming a band. Most of the aforementioned groups (notwithstanding the first and the last) have become more or less synonymous to me: interchangeable names on festival bills, none of which really stand out any clearer than the rest. If for whatever reason it fell on my shoulders to christen a band, I’d do my best to keep the ‘B’ word at bay (pun very much intended) for this very reason: when there are so many players wearing the same colours, it’s easy to become indistinguishable. When it comes to Philadelphian band Beach Slang’s latest EP, the picture is clear; the heart’s on the sleeve.
Suburban dissatisfaction, liberating apathy, dry wit and plenty of riffs. Beach Slang is the band all you punk rock aficionados need to get into.
Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street is music for the drunken youths of suburban cul-de-sacs (figurative and literal), smoking dirty cigarettes and French-kissing American girls. It’s a fuzzed out sound with a trope of “fuck everything” nihilism coursing through it, including but not limited to bluntly titled tracks like We Are Nothing.
And then there’s that artwork… where in the wide and wonderful world of album art have we seen that before? The faded, worn-in image and the overexposed nostalgic aesthetic… Isn’t that a motherfucking ‘Smiths’ LP? It’s not, as it turns out, but the influence is blatant—and, surely enough, the EP’s very first track sees vocalist James Alex wheezing “You are how The Smiths sound when they’re falling in love”. I don’t fully understand what he means by that, but the point is that Beach Slang are an honest band who don’t try to sweep their inspirations under the rug.
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From the physical EP alone—the cover image and the track listing—one could glean a pretty good idea of what this release is all about. Morrissey in particular gets a few tips of the hat—not so much in the sonic sphere as in the dry, scorned wit of the lyrics. Allow me, for a moment, to indulge in a few standouts.
“I hope when I die I feel this alive” Alex chants in EP highlight American Girls And French Kisses, with more than a drop of dark Smithian irony, before going on to proclaim “It’s less that I’m dumb and more awkward socially. I’m hiding in drugs, but hoping you’ll wait for me” (and anyone who’s ever leant on contraband as a social crutch lets out a quiet “amen”). In the balladic, aforementioned EP closer We Are Nothing Snyder reflects, with a little more deliberation: “We grew guts and gnawed on the roar of life; we got young and, baby, we did it right”.
These are the chords this EP strikes at: suburban existentialism; liberating apathy; self-prescribed recreational drugs; and a bedrock theme of punk rock anti-establishmentarianism. Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street is four tracks worth of jaded garage shoegazing at a bloodied pair of Vans—not out of a refusal to see what the world holds in store, but a refusal to look too far into it.
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