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Beach Slang - 'The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City' Album Review


1. All The Kids In LA

2. Let It Ride

3. Bam Rang Rang

4. Tommy In The 80s

5. Nobody Say Nothing

6. Nowhere Bus

7. Stiff

8. Born To Raise Hell

9. Sticky Thumbs

10. Kicking Over Bottles

11. Bar No One

Genres are weird, right? I mean, I get why we need them. For one, they’re a neat pigeonhole into which writers can put new music, so the reader has a general idea of what sort of music the band makes before they hear it. Genres also make it easier for us to discover new music that we might like- whether that’s through browsing the Albanian Nu-Metal section at your local record store, listening to radio stations that champion your favourite genre, or listening to bands suggested by your streaming service of choice. But it’s not an infallible system; it’s not likely that anyone would like every single artist that gets put into one particular pigeon hole, and there may be genres that you think you hate until you hear that one band that strikes a chord with you. There may be bands that you ignore because you have a preconception of what they sound like, without actually hearing them, and there may be bands that you get excited about before you hear them, and then they leave you cold. It’s maybe not the band’s fault that they leave you cold, it’s just that they were mis-sold to you, the genre didn’t do its job.

‘The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City’ landed in my inbox with all the promise that new music brings; it’s unheard, it could be anything, this could be the one. I’ve never heard Beach Slang before, so I had a quick Google (other search engines are available but no-one really uses them) and came up with the following Wiki quote (other online encyclopaedias are available but blah blah blah): “Beach Slang is an American Punk Rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in May 2013”. Punk Rock, cool, I know what that is, I know I like it, let’s go.

No. This is not a Punk Rock record. It’s a bit out and out Rock, it’s a bit Glam Rock, it’s a bit Hair Rock, it’s even a bit Boogie Rock at times, but it’s not Punk Rock. No. No. No.

I listened to this record again and again, to try and be fair to it, and it was only when I was on my fifth listen that I realised the problem was with me and my preconceptions, not with the record itself. ‘TDBoHC’ is an accomplished record; it’s well produced, well performed, the songs are well written. It’s just maybe not what I was expecting. The majority of the record is good fun, a romp of a Rock record, it made me smile. There appear to be some really diverse musical references as well, some of which must have been intentional (‘Tommy In The 80s’ has a riff that seems incredibly close to the opening line of Starship’s ‘We Built This City’) and some of which perhaps weren’t (the bass in lead single, ‘Bam Rang Rang’ has a distinct ring of Status Quo’s ‘Down Down’).

Much as I found myself enjoying this record, I can’t help but wonder if I missed the point, I don’t think I was meant to find it amusing. I don’t think it was really meant to make me smile, I don’t think it’s meant to be good fun. ‘Nobody Say Nothing’ and ’Bar No One’ are pared down, reflective tracks that make me think this is meant to be a serious and emotional album. The problem is that the overly earnest lyrics are the sort of thing one might write as lyrics or poetry in your angsty early teens, before discovering that you’re not actually very good at writing lyrics or poetry.

My problem with this record is that I don’t really know who it’s aimed at, I don’t really know what genre to put it in. And perhaps that’s my problem, rather than the band’s.

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Review - Jon Stokes

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