Last year, Philadelphian punk-revivalists Beach Slang won over music critics and fans alike with their debut album, ‘The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us’ and now, less than 12 months later, we already have a follow up. For fans of the band, this is hardly surprising – there’s a certain all or nothing urgency that James Alex and his troops exude, a melting pot of poetic passion and wild enthusiasm brought forth by a frontman that knows he’s living the dream.
A mere five months ago, on a tour in support of that already iconic debut, it looked like the relentless positivity had given way to a messy and public self-combustion. A negativity filled the air at a Salt Lake City show as Alex announced “We were Beach Slang” and indicated the band were done. It was all very un-Beach Slang. Thankfully, in a statement on their Facebook, the decision was quickly reversed with the help of a pleading fan begging “Please don’t do this, we need you”. The statement finished with the simple proclamation of “If you’re still in, we are”. A humble admission that he’d f***** up, a much more Beach Slang-like action.
And so, they live on to bring a second full-length of fuzzy anthems which, as the title suggests, is built around the tales of the band’s teenage fans and their own struggles to find their place in the world. ‘A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings’ is delivered with the same spirit as their debut but goes an extra step in including those that related so closely to James Alex’s own fights with failure as the frontman puts the stories he has heard to more rousing, fist-pumping punk.
It’s easy to see why so many relate to this band, if MSN and its screen-names were still a thing in 2016, it would be awash with Beach Slang lyrics. A memorable line is never more than a minute or so anyway and it’s no different on opener, ‘Future Mixtape for The Art Kids’ which is literally littered with Beach Slang-isms especially with a chorus of “When I’m f*****, we are f****** alive. I hope I never die”. They really cut loose early doors too; ‘Atom Bomb’ has the same balls-to-the-wall power that ‘Ride the Wild Haze’ had on last year’s effort, but with a chorus so catchy that the band were confident enough to play it last in recent festival appearances before anyone had even heard it. The lead single of ‘Punks in A Disco Bar’ also does a fine job – it perfectly captures the tone of the record and does everything you want a Beach Slang song to do.
Other highlights include ‘Hot Tramps’ and ‘Young Hearts’; they’re the sort of pounding mid-tempo anthems that we’ve come to love from this band with the former wasting no time messing around with things such as an intro. Both tracks keep it simple, shooting straight for the heart and find guitarist Ruben Gallego playing his role to perfection as he compliments the hazy chords with his trademark arpeggios and note-bending leads. By no means do Beach Slang re-invent the musical wheel, or indeed do they stray too far from sound of their debut, but those that expect or desire them to do so are sorely missing the point.
The biggest switch-up in terms of musicality perhaps comes with the album’s ‘Warpaint’ closer. A palm muted rhythm guitar is all that accompanies James Alex’s hushed whisper for the most part, allowing the listener to hear the message of hope clearly with lines like “Don’t be afraid to want to be alive”. Whereas some of Alex’s best lines can occasionally get lost amongst the fuzz and buzzing guitars, it’s certainly not the case here.
A brief, uninformed and casual listen to ‘A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings’ could lead some to write this follow up off as self-plagiarism but don’t listen to those people. Read the interviews, listen to the back-stories and you’ll realise that, though the tone and message is very much the same, this is simply the sound of a band that have something positive to say and just want you to feel something, anything, whilst listening to their records. You’d be hard-pushed not to allow them that wish.
‘A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings’ is out now via Big Scary Monsters.
This Beach Slang article was written by Simon Carline, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.