Review: Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us


beachslang-thingswedoWe seriously need to talk about band names, people. If I’m not mistaken, there are still literally millions of unused ideas out there, but you wouldn’t know it from the casual glance at the college rock charts (or wherever the hell alternative music actually gets air time). Beach Slang, despite releasing a perfectly good album, had my eyes rolling before I even listened to a note, based entirely on the group name. Don’t we already have Beach House, not to mention The Beach Boys? Then there’s Best Coast, who might as well have the word “beach” in their name. It reminds me of the whole animal names debacle of the mid-2000s (what with Wolf Parade, Deerhunter, Deerhoof, Fleet Foxes etc). All of the bands I’ve just mentioned are decent to excellent, but in an age where there’s more independent and under-the-radar music than ever before, one would think an artist would want them to separate themselves from the pack (no pun intended, but then later pun intended).

Here’s a band name: Tiny Widdle Holocaust.

It’s not a good name, but there is no other band called exactly that, for better or worse. That’s a name you remember, even if it’s just so you can actively hate it.

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Anyway, let’s talk about the album. Beach Slang’s debut, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, immediately feels familiar. Though the songs are new, the archetypes are well worn. The Philadelphia group (you know, nowhere near a fucking beach) has carefully studied the playbook perfected by Paul Westerberg and Bob Mould and later run into the ground by the Goo Goo Dolls. Superficially, it’s all bile and force; the veneer of hardcore music runs like a tributary through the proceedings. But ultimately it’s just that: a veneer. Underneath, just like the Replacements and Husker Du, Beach Slang is composed of a bunch of big ol’ softies. But you know what? They wear soft very well.

Think of a well-worn flannel shirt. Maybe it smells like camping and/or the woods. Whatever helps you. Either way, this flannel shirt is a source of comfort and consistency, but also a reminder of various transgressions and missteps. For every positive and hopeful memory, there’s the dull ache of an old scar to counterbalance it.  It’s perhaps fitting that the best songs on the album are a bit more introspective and quiet. “Too Late to Die Young” is a halfway-point-breather in the vein of the Replacements’ “Unsatisfied” or Husker Du’s “Hardly Getting Over It,” and it works beautifully. With understated piano and a genuine, desperate air, I feel like this is the band Beach Slang should ultimately become. It’s too bad that the rest of the album threatens to lapse into generic alt-rock sludge that wouldn’t be out of place in the MTV Buzz Bin circa 1994. Nothing against Soul Asylum, but that shouldn’t necessarily be your barometer for success.

Yeah, take that, Soul Asylum! You’ve had it coming for years! Jordan Posner’s not afraid to tear down the sacred cows! He doesn’t care who he offends! Lester Bangs, watch your back! Even though you’re already dead!

I see a lot of potential in Beach Slang, but they may need to let go of the punk rock posturing to really blossom. The melodies run deep, but threaten to dissolve into sameness upon execution. Ultimately, there are enough good ideas here to warrant a tentative recommendation, entirely dependent on various conditions subsequent. Turn down the jangly guitar and bring up the piano. Let’s see if this group can develop into something useful.

For other good moments, check out “Porno Love” and “Young & Alive.”

Release Date: Oct. 30, 2015

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