Saturday, 21 November 2015

Album Review: The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us by Beach Slang (by Dave Chivers)

I'd noticed a lot of buzz about Beach Slang online recently and I wanted to find out what all the noise was about. I'm typically very wary when there's a large amount of hype surrounding a new band, primarily because, like any good punk, I don't want to follow the crowd but also because I've been disappointed so many times before.

Listening to the open track Throwaways, I was worried that I would soon experience that familiar feeling again. I definitely liked the tune but the distortion on the vocals was off-putting and seemed unnecessary. Nonetheless, there were flecks of Samiam and Jawbreaker jumping out at me, which gave me hope that I'd soon strike gold.

Unfortunately the first single, Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas, was underwhelming. It starts off strong enough but as soon as the 'aaahhhs' kick in, it weakens. It's just too indie rock for my tastes and I could easily have dismissed the band if this had been the first song I'd heard. Fortunately for me, it wasn't. 

After Noisy Heaven I started to adjust to the vocal effects, and I started hearing some perfectly poignant lyrics - 'Most of the words get stuck in my mouth but I mean all the ones that punch their way out'. There are obviously so many songs about the live scene and touring, but this one felt unique and anthemic.

Ride the Wild Haze elevated my optimism further; it's charged with unadulterated punk rock energy and carries a message that is easily relatable for music (and weed) lovers. For me, there was a hint of the Lawrence Arms (Hey, What Time Is 'Pensacola: Wings Of Gold' On Anyway?) about this one that made it all the sweeter. I expect this will be (or is already) a crowd favourite – 'Get high enough to feel alive'.

Too Late to Die Young introduces a refreshing acoustic element at the right point, with vocal effects kept to a minimum. Although a token acoustic track has become somewhat of a standard feature of punk rock albums, this charming ditty adds great value. The gruff vocals blend nicely with the soft melodies. The chorus is particularly uplifting and I knew I was starting to become a fan by this point, singing along after only a few listens.

The next offering I Break Guitars sealed the deal for me. Like a rougher and tougher Jimmy Eat World song, it delivers a massive punch almost effortlessly. It follows a general theme running throughout the album about loving music, being young, wild and alive. Young & Alive spells this out in no uncertain terms and continues to throw out charming one-liners – 'Go punch the air with things you write'.

My enthusiasm dipped slightly during Porno Love. Mainly because I could relate to so many of the previous lyrics and then I'm suddenly hearing about California, which I've never cared about. It's certainly melodic and shows off a more ambient side to the band. I could imagine it being played during an emotional driving scene in an artsy indie movie. I felt it could have ended after 2 minutes, although it would be quite cool for a crowd to join in with 'it's heeeeeaaaaven'.

Nostalgia and angst blast back through in Hard Luck Kid, which provides listeners with a clear-cut, catchy chorus. I would prescribe this for any lost and lonely punk rock teen.

Dirty Lights didn't do much for me at all and, to be brutally honest, I was glad it was at the end so I didn't have to keep skipping it. The effects on the guitars in the intro make them sound out of tune and the vocals later repeat that melody, which just left me feeling irritated. Of course this may well be one for other types of fans and it could appeal to a wider audience.

The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us is definitely an album to be proud of. The songs have been carefully crafted and they're presented succinctly and sincerely. You may feel slightly miffed by the fact there are only 10 tracks and almost all of them are well under 3 minutes long. Yet I see this as another great strength of theirs; they avoid filler wherever possible. Beach Slang have a mature and engaging style and they demonstrate how punk rock doesn't need to be in fast or aggressive in order to be powerful. One of my favourite lines from the album, pretty much sums it up: 'If rock and roll is dead again, how come I can't stop listening?'

Stream and download The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us here:

Like Beach Slang here: