Beng Beng Cocktail are a band that I first heard of on the massive What Do You Know About Ska Punk? that was released earlier this year. For me, Beng Beng Cocktail were one of the standout bands on the compilation with their track Fucking Rudeboy. It made me look a bit more into the band, I discovered that they are from France and class their version of the ska punk as Crystalcore. According to the band Crystalcore is a mixing together of acoustic guitar, crack rocksteady and hip hop. I also saw that they would be releasing a brand new album in March titled Like A Brother. I loved Fucking Rudeboy so much that I had expectations that this would be one of my albums of the year.
Fucking Rudeboy is actually the opening track on Like A Brother. This is a slow paced sing-along song that will be stuck in your head for days. I was playing it to Emma for the first time and she immediately found herself singing along to the song. There is a fantastic simplicity about the song, this makes it absolutely fantastic. Not all the great songs need to be complicated musical masterpieces, sometimes they can just be stripped back catchy tunes that stay in your head for days. Fucking Rudeboy is about wanting a friend to change their unhealthy ways before they end up alone. I loved the ending of the song where the music cuts out and the final chorus is sung acapella style. Hunger Shames is a faster paced track that has much more aggression than the laid back style of the previous song. The track feels like a political one, with the band fighting against the authority who seem to think that life is like a game and don't care about the people and only themselves. After a little research I discovered that the Hunger Shame title is a play on the popular Hunger Games series and there is a nice nod to the heroin of that story, Katniss Everdeen. The third track on the album is named Six Roses. Six Roses is a song dedicated to a sadly deceased friend of the band. It paints a brilliant picture of a man who is sorely missed by all that knew him. I don't know who Louby is but it seems apparent that he was a man to be looked up to. The guitar playing in Six Roses is absolutely superb with some great, intricate chords accompanying this emotional tribute to their friend. Traitiors, Haters and Traders is a short song at only fifty-eight seconds long and sees the band lean towards a more crust punk style. The production of the song is super raw and dirty and is definitely not one for the casual music listener. But if you enjoy some crusty punk rock every now and again this is a song for you. On this song, Beng Beng Cocktail attack the moneymen of the world - calling them out for being greedy and being more concerned with having money than helping people who need it.
The fifth track on Like A Brother is Half Baked Band. On this track Beng Beng Cocktail call out the disrespectful bands in the punk scene. The chorus really stands out on the song. The tempo of the song changes and the chorus is pretty much chantable - "Hey! You Know You're Just A Fucking Clown, You Motherfucker You'd Better Stay Out Of My Town." Beng Beng Cocktail are at their best when they are angry. Up next is the album's title track, Like A Brother. Like A Brother is a song about the bond of friendship between band members Befa and Skal feeling like they are like brothers. The closest bond two friends can have. This is quite a sweet song and that's something that I didn't really expect straight after the anger of Half Baked Band. Last Lie begins with another moment for plenty of singing along. The use of two vocalists works brilliantly well on this introduction to the song with each singer taking alternating lines. Last Lie is a song about the end of a friendship due to having enough of a person constantly lying to you. The placement of this song after a song about a great friendship really took me by surprise and is a great flip of the coin. Is (Th)is is a song reacting to the terrible Paris bombings of 2015. Beng Beng Cocktail question why Isis commit such terrible atrocities because of their belief in a god that they don't know exists. Understandably there is a whole lot of anger in this track with the band dropping more f-bombs than I can really repeat anymore in this review. Mr H is a humorous song that goes after a politician that Beng Beng Cocktail feel is greedy and stupid and they want him out of the government. I always enjoy when a hard hitting political song such as this can also have a bit of humour involved.
Track ten is a song named Lonely Bobby. On this track Beng Beng Cocktail question why people would abandon their pets, on this occasion a dog named Bobby. I actually found myself getting a bit upset and emotional listening to this song as I am a big fan of dogs. I really hope that this song isn't based on any particular incident. A truly heartbreaking track that got me right in the feels. Trash TV goes after the state of current TV and popular culture in general, claiming that people will do anything, no matter how stupid it might be, to get their fifteen minutes of fame. There is a fantastic sound of spite on the line "You're Like A Whore, Making Easy Money You're Too Lazy To Go To Work." One Year In Dark is by far the longest song on Like A Brother at five minutes and fifteen seconds long. The song talks about struggling with mental health issues and feeling like it's time to take your own life. It's never time to take your own life. This is another extremely sad song but I always think it's important to hear bands talk about these issues in songs or just in general as it really does help you realise that you're not alone. Credit to Beng Beng Cocktail for writing this track. The penultimate song on Beng Beng Cocktail is named The Death Of The European Industry. On my first listen of the track the thing that really stood out was the chorus. The dual vocals of screaming and singing work fantastically. It really helps hammer in the negativity of the death of industry in Europe. Musically the song is quite upbeat given the impression of a protest song that can be enjoyed as long as you are fighting for what you believe in. Finally we have One Day. In what seems like a fitting way to finish Like A Brother, One Day is about having a life affirming day where you realise you have to look after yourself and not worry about the bad people in your life. I like that after a long album that focuses on bad things that happen and are happening throughout the world, Beng Beng Cocktail decided to finish with a song like this. It gives a sense of no matter what happens you're going to be okay. Great stuff.
Like A Brother is an album like no other I've listened to this year. It's educational and doesn't pull any punches. Beng Beng Cocktail are clearly a band that aren't afraid to be different and to stand for their values. After listening to their previous material it's clear the Beng Beng Cocktail are improving massively as a band and have taken themselves to another level with this release.
Stream and download Like A Brother here: https://bengbengcocktail.bandcamp.com/album/like-a-brother-2017-14-tracks-album
Like Beng Beng Cocktail here: https://www.facebook.com/bengbengcocktail/
This review was written by Colin Clark.