Tighter editorial control could have made this good album great.Chapter Music, 2017
Purchase: Chapter Music / Amazon
7.0 / 10
For a minute, rock-n-roll was an American thing. The Chuck Berrys, the Little Richards, broke ground with their loud sounds, but it didn’t take long for another continent to take those ideas and make them better. So for a longer time, rock-n-roll’s home was the UK. Sure, you can point out a few notable exceptions, like the Velvet Underground. But for the most part, the Brits had us beat. Depending on who you ask, the tides turned, and rock-n-roll made its way back to the US. This was either at the turn of the 90s with grunge or in the early 00s with the Brooklyn indie scene. For the past decade, rock-n-roll’s home has been Australia. As the Brits headed to the dancefloor, and as the Americans traded in their guitars for laptops, the Aussies and Kiwis cranked out the best, most solid rock music.
Boring history lesson, right? It’s important for framing Beaches‘ new album, Second of Spring, though. No, I don’t mean “The” Beaches — that’s another band. And I don’t mean Beach House. And the Bette Midler movie? As far away from that as you can get.
Second of Spring is Beaches’ third record. It’s a double-album sprawling well over 70 minutes. For the hungry rock fan, there’s a lot of greatness to sink your teeth into. Buzzing guitars, tight meat-and-potatoes drum lines, and breathy reverberating vocals. Some of Second of Spring‘s best moments are when Beaches comes perilously close to shoegaze. “Walk Around”, with its repetition, becomes a space-rock track that would have felt snugly at home on any Spaceman 3 or Brian Jonestown Massacre album. However, when Beaches shoots for straightforward arrangements, their limitations are easier to spot. Namely, they’re not as bombastic as their (shorter) songs demand.
I won’t make the argument that “too much of a good thing is a bad thing.” But it’s not out of line to say that “too much of a thing is a bad thing.” Note the distinction. With its 17 tracks, there are several songs that would not be missed if they were left on the studio floor. “Golden”, for example, is an alright track. However, it doesn’t expand on the band’s sound, their themes, and it doesn’t throw you an especially memorable melody. The instrumental tracks, which are meandering at best, don’t add to the album’s value either. This may not give pause to fans of Beaches, but for most, 2017 has been a stacked year — especially for Australian rock-n-roll — so some editorial control would have been appreciated.
“When You’re Gone”