Unashamedly emotional rock is always a good thing in the alternative genre’s book. There’s nothing better than feeling a sense of partnership with a record with emotions at its core mirroring yours. And on the scale of emotion, it looks like Philadelphia quartet Beach Slang are definitely in need of a hug and a hot cup of tea. Debut album The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us is a blend of punk with poppy hooks, the distinctive Americana-esque vocals of James Alex, and of course, the pure emotion tying everything together.
…Feel Like Us is lyrically a record about living life to the full delivered in the most pessimistic way possible. But musically, a lot of the time it’s hugely optimistic and cheerful sounding like in the tender gorgeousness of Noisy Heaven or almost pop-rock accompaniment of brilliant opener Throwaways. It’s quite a confusing mix, but it works, especially with the likes of Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas in which sweetly delivered “ha ha ha” and “doo doo doo” vocalising is delivered around lyrics such as “I’ve always felt stuck, alone or ashamed, the gutter’s too rough, the stars are too safe”. Similar things can be heard in Hard Luck Kid and Ride The Wild Haze. The confusion makes it all too easy to lose the overall point of most of the tracks, but when it finally clicks, it’s clear that their feeling more like diary entries than lyrics will find homes within the hearts of emo as well as punk fans everywhere.
But there are instances where it all gets a bit, well, boring. Repetition is used arguably more than it should be sometimes, like in the romantically titled Porno Love where the wispy minute-and-a-half long refrain of “it’s heaven” repeated over and over massively begins to grate after a while. Refrains like these are regular occurrences on the record too. Thankfully a lot of them work, but when they don’t the track becomes more of a drone than anything else. On a different matter, Alex’s raspy vocals stick out like a sore thumb on acoustic ballad Too Late To Die Young, and it’s clear that this type of track does not work for Beach Slang.
Aside from this, though, it’s clear that Beach Slang have identified a sound for themselves, and even Too Late To Die Young follows the blueprint of the other nine songs on …Feels Like Us, especially lyrically. And the emotions very much at the forefront of the record manage to be delivered in a somewhat open yet contained way, such as the subdued rage of I Break Guitars. It adds to a mysterious air around the songs. The aforementioned confusion over what the intended effect is just allows for open interpretation, adding to the quartet’s appeal. If you need a musical hug to go with whatever you’re feeling, then Beach Slang have got you covered.
For fans of: The Gaslight Anthem, The Menzingers, Moose Blood
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us’ by Beach Slang is out now on Big Scary Monsters.