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There’s a real sense of beauty in youth and in musical simplicity. For one, that naive, innocent time of our teenage years is filled to the brim with the growing pains of self-expression and understanding (or trying to understand) the external world and the internal one. It is such a crucial, important time in all of our lives. Sure, it can be a shitty time for most, but it’s a magical time nonetheless, as corny as that sounds. Likewise, your music doesn’t have to be revolutionary, original or be the most complex, intricate composition of all time; it just has to be good and resonate with an audience. That really seems to be the case for US punks, Beach Slang, whose honest and compositionally simple music is not only damned good but is an exceptional record of teenage self-expression.
For those unaware, this Philadelphia four-piece have only been a band for just over three years now but have already developed a devout underground following behind them, with three consecutive releases to their name. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still early days for the band, but I’d argue that new LP, ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings‘, will only help surge the band’s rising success & popularity moving forward.
If you haven’t heard of Beach Slang before, I find their Facebook bio to be a very apt description of their sound; “guitar, bass, & drums. Played loudly”. What you see, or rather what you hear, is exactly what you’ll get with this band. The band’s (now former) drummer JP Flexner, lead guitarist Ed McNulty, and bassist Ruben Gallego all provide the fuzzy, distorted sonic glue that allows singer/rhythm guitarist James Alex to weave his short, bittersweet, romanticised tales of life over the top of through gritty, distorted vocals. Nothing more, nothing less, and that’s a-okay.
While the band’s instrumentation may be stock standard for punk rock, it carries with it these warm, bright melodies which help to create the perfect soundtrack for us Aussies as we lap up Spring (except for those in Vicotoria right now) and the eventual balls-sweating, fire-starting heatwave that is our summer. Excluding seasonal listening, when you couple these melodies with the tight, punchy drums and the gritty, distortion-filled vocals portraying romanticised stories of youth and love, you’ve got one hell of a record on your hands. ‘Punks In A Disco Bar‘ and ‘Future Mixtape For The Art Kids‘ capture that carefree basement show energy first, and that underlying bittersweet, emotional tone second. Whereas as a slower song like ‘The Perfect High‘ captures the human honesty and emotions first and that crunchy, energetic punk rock sound second. However, no matter the sequencing, it’s potent stuff.
Musically, ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings‘ is very similar to their debut record, 2015’s ‘The Things We Do To Find The People Who Feel Like Us‘. But I for one am happy to embrace more of the same from Beach Slang. Why? Because it was already stellar to begin with. However, with that being said, I do hope that Beach Slang start to branch out and experiment on future releases, because, ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings‘ is a bit of a “one-note” album. Yes, that phrase may sound weird to describe a record with, but once you get past ‘Art Damage‘ & ‘Hit Tramps‘, you’ve heard all there really is to hear of the band’s sound. But even then, it’s a very consistent listen, one that moves effortlessly from hit to hit.
Also, the recurring theme of youth, of naive passion, of teenage self-expression, is a bit on the nose at times. I mean, hell, the album’s called ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings‘, NOT ‘I Am Too Old To Feel Anymore‘. Plus, the tracklisting includes song titles like ‘Young Hearts‘, ‘Wasted Days Of Youth‘, ‘Future Mixtapes For The Art Kids‘, and so on. So yes, it all centres in on one’s youth (or more specifically, on your childhood) and carries with it a subtle melancholic vibe. But instead of solely wallowing in that regret and mourning nature of youth wasted, Beach Slang remain upbeat & cheerful across album #2. Just like the band’s lead singer, it embraces unapologetic optimism over negativity and cynicism.
Now, my personal life motto has always been cautious cynicism, and yet, I can fully abide by the themes and lyrics here, as it’s a deeply touching record. Namely because of its emotional, romanticised lyrics and stories, all of which are backed up by simple, yet truly powerful instrumentals, strong vocal delivery and a production & mix that really compliments the band’s dynamic, lively sound. Punk rock music like this may be simple, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fantastic!
Beach Slang’s singer & guitarist, James Alex, told me earlier this year that “I really want this to be the record where you get in your car, turn the windows down, turn the album up and just drive somewhere.” Well, James, you really nailed that sense of freedom and bliss with this new record. ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’ is an infectiously catchy record, and a genuine one at that. This record is a love letter to Beach Slang’s youth, to your youth even, and its sentimental value is rivalled only by the quality of the punchy indie, punk rock foundation that it stands tall upon. ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’ shows simplicity and youth self-expression can be equally powerful and beautiful. So go buy it, play it in your car, turn it up, and just drive somewhere. Anywhere.
- 1. Future Mixtape For The Art Kids
- 2. Atom Bomb
- 3. Spin The Dial
- 4. Art Damage
- 5. Hit Tramps
- 6. Punks In A Disco Bar
- 7. Wasted Daze Of Youth
- 8. Young Hearts
- 9. The Perfect High
- 10. Warpaint
‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’ is out September 23rd via Polyvinyl Records & Cooking Vinyl.