Another serving of shout-along, fun-if-you're-young, nostalgic-if-you're-not, punk rock.Polyvinyl, 2016
8.2 / 10
Philadelphia has a huge pop-punk/emo scene. The support and community formed around it is pretty awesome, but most of the bands themselves are forgettable. Same vocal style, same influences — it makes you want to swear off the scene altogether. BUT, occasionally there are bands like Beach Slang, and not only do they reinvigorate the scene, they give you, pretentious, naive, “music critic” that you are, hope that there is a group that you can dedicate yourself to, “our band could be your life”-style.
Now, being as objective as possible, Beach Slang kick fucking ass. Kidding? Their first record, veering between full-throated Rise Against anthems and transcendent Replacements singles, was as much a mission statement as it was a debut. The confident, lurking choruses of songs like “Young and Alive” were only aided by the universally introspective lyrics. On slightly-less-clunkily-titled sophomore album, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, James Alex and co. pull all the strings, banger after banger.
The hooks all sound vaguely familiar, and it’s largely the same ground as the debut, but Alex’s songwriting has progressed leaps and bounds. “Spin the Dial”, with its clear “Alex Chilton”-aping riff, leans into the melodrama rather than skirting around it, anchored by front-and-center lines like “I’m hardly ever right but I’ve never been wrong/I can’t get calm”. The words slide right into the melodic sweet-spot that is “Hot Tramps”, as Alex sings “Your arms are a car crash I want to die in/ I can’t love you wrong enough” right to the part of your brain that wants to get tattoos. Repeat, Philadelphia citizens, get Beach Slang tattoos.
All my aimless gushing aside, Beach Slang have improved on their debut in almost every way. The drums and guitar are in lockstep, and the whole band knows just when to unleash hell, or throw in a spidery guitar melody. The confidence shows, and if ambition rears its head before album three, then they may have a masterpiece in them. Music like this can only go so far, but for now, they seem to have claimed the mantle from Japandroids (where are you?) for most life-affirming, earnest band around.