Beach Slang should be your new favourite band. A combination of roaring Replacements power pop, Born to Run lyrical romanticism topped off with a Blake Schwarzenbach cigarette-snarl, they fit in perfectly with Modern Baseball and Joyce Manor’s new wave of American pop punk. Last year they released two highly energetic EPs: Who Would Want Anything So Broken? and Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street with their respective anthems ‘Filthy Luck’ and ‘Dirty Cigarettes’. A year later and they are back with their debut album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us. Will this be Let It Be or All Shook Down?
Single ‘Bad Art & Weird Ideas’ is an atypical Beach Slang song, and that is possibly the reason why it was singled out to become the main pre-release release. Its mid-tempo and comparatively excessive 3.19 length a marks it out as an oddity when played against their previous sugar-rushes. While initially disappointing as a standalone, when housed within the album it perfectly epitomises their recurring themes: misfit love, junkie poetry and a world-weary determination. Mid-album highlight ‘Too Late to Die Young’ condenses the certain ennui of out-living punk heroes Sid Vicious and Kurt Cobain into a cello-assisted alt-ballad.
Beach Slang’s influences are fairly blatant, as well as the aforementioned Replacements, Springsteen and Jawbreaker, there are touches of The Exploding Hearts in the backstreet imagery; ‘Porno Love”s “Heaven” refrain recalls the Psychedelic Furs’ song of the same title, while its reverb-soaked ambience is reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine at their loveliest and Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity. Plus the guitar-sound opening ‘Dirty Lights’ is so ‘Buddy Holly’ it practically oo-ee-oos Weezer. So rare is it that an album evokes nostalgic feelings of first band-obsessions while creating some fresh anthems with true insight into the human condition.
The whole album seems consumed with the theme of living in the moment – Beach Slang vocalist James Synder spent most of career with pop-punk nothings Weston to little fanfare; this is his chance to make up for lost time and the Hell-or-bust tempos and nothing-left-to-lose lyricism reflect that. Feedback bleeds between tracks, the tempos so accelerated that songs do not have time to end before another begins. ‘Young & Alive’ mixes peaks of euphoric harmony-drenched distorted guitars with lowkey mantra-like repetitions of the title – like with life in general, sometimes you need to reassure yourself with small self-motivational moments so you can continue through the pain. Synder, despite pushing 40, is still young and alive.
Jawbreaker had an album called 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, this could easily have been titled 24 Hour Life Therapy. Life is a collection of broken dreams, failures and scars but the occasional extraordinary album like The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us shows that we are not alone in our unsatisfied existences.