Beach Slang – ‘The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City’ album review

Beach Slang The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City Bam Rang Rang

Photo credit: Charlie Lowe

Beach Slang kick off 2020 with the release of brand new album ‘The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City’ (10 January via Bridge Nine Records). This time around, James Alex is joined by a very special guest on bass: Tommy Stinson of The Replacements.

All written and arranged by James, the 11 tracks kick off with ‘All the Kids in LA’, an Oasis’ ‘Swamp Song’-esque stomper complete with thunderous drums, punky riffs and shouts of ‘come on!’ ‘Let It Ride’ offers a homage to the rock and roll lifestyle as James delivers the opening statement: ‘I’m heading out tonight for a cheap thrill, got trash can charm, a bag of pills. My face ain’t much but it pays the bills’ before then doubting himself (if only for a moment): ‘Rock and roll’s my favourite scene but I don’t know if I’m good at it. Too in love, too dumb to quit’. The couplet of recent singles ‘Bam Rang Rang’ and ‘Tommy in the 80s’ follow, the former managing to fit in the album title amidst the blistering fuzzy hooks and the latter featuring buoyant horns. A tribute to power pop legend Tommy Keene, the song finds James unashamedly lifting some of his best-known riffs and shouting ‘Tommy, alright!’ with glee.

‘Nobody Say Nothing’ calms things down a little with acoustic strums and the opening words of ‘just hush’. It’s reminiscent of James’ stripped-back Quiet Slang recordings as he opens his heart about someone walking out on him and a possibly toxic relationship: ‘You chose cheap sex while me and my mind just collide’; ‘Your blood is filthy. It’s stuck inside my skin. It won’t kill me’. This runs through to ‘Nowhere Bus’ as James looks at his own life with the poignant words ‘I’m a one-way ticket on a nowhere bus’. James veers into something more in line with Def Leppard and Brit rock heroes on ‘Stiff’. It’s a potent song with big, brooding bass, hushed vocals, stop-start moments and cheeky lyrics: ‘Stiff, swinging my hips’.

The feedback-drenched ‘Born to Raise Hell’ is next up and finds James repeating the title like a rowdy teenager who is ready to rip up the streets while ‘Sticky Thumbs’ has talk of the suburbs, Cadillacs and other classic American traits. Perfect for FM radio, it mixes elements of grunge with alluring melodies (think The Melvins meets R.E.M.) before James delivers an arena-baiting breakdown: ‘I’ll do anything I wanna’. The horns are back on ‘Kicking Over Bottles’, an emo-tinged power pop anthem that is reminiscent of Beach Slang’s recent tour mates Jimmy Eat World. The closing ‘Bar No One’ is over six minutes long and finds James evaluating the nature of mortality in the way every rock star should: ‘I know I’m gonna die someday, turn to dust. Before you toss my bones away, make sure I look pretty laying in my grave’.

‘The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City’ offers everything you want from a Beach Slang album – fuzzy guitar hooks, heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics and a dynamism that never fades on repeated listens. ‘Play it loud, play it fast…’

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