Beach Slang – The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City (Bridge Nine, 2020)

People who have been keeping the faith with the ramblings on this piece of shit website will be no stranger to the fact that I totally (and very unfashionably) adore Beach Slang. People laugh at me for this, and find it ridiculous. I’ve been a figure of ridicule most of my life, so that kind of static just bounces off me.

Admittedly, after catching Beach Slang live in London last year, supporting Jawbreaker, I was disappointed; nay heartbroken. The band, or at least in that particular guise, James Alex plus seemingly short notice backing musicians, were spectacularly bad live. Maybe James Alex had too many pops that night (it was his birthday). Maybe it was the lack of synergy with the backing musicians. Maybe James Alex was guilty of worshipping The Replacements a little bit too much that night in terms of letting chaos have free reign and seeing whether it turned out genius or plain disastrous. Who fucking knows, mate?

Beach Slang at Brixton Academy, the day the dream died

Hence, I was somewhat skeptical as to what to expect from this new record, in particular as Beach Slang seem to have parted ways with former labels Polyvinyl and Big Scary Monsters. And also as James Alex has recruited former Replacement Tommy Stinson, which although it must be something of a personal coup for him, seems to be verging into some bizarre alternate reality where everything becomes totally meta.

Anyway, skeptical as I was, I was still kind of hopeful. Seemingly, however, the purpose of having hopes is to have them shattered by reality. I’ve listened through this record several times now, and the foremost conclusion I have is that I’m glad I didn’t have £21 to piss up the wall on this, because right now, I’m feeling robbed even though I’ve not spent any money. I can only look on this as a waste of an investment of time and effort.

Photo cred: Andy Feliu

It’s not the worst thing I’ve heard by any stretch of the imagination, but fuck me, this feels confused as all hell to my ears, and clumsily put together, to boot. There are shades of the Beach Slang of old demonstrated in heart-on-sleeve technicolour overly self-conscious jangleathons that now just feel trite and exaggerated, no matter how earnestly they are presented. Where on prior releases this had felt endearing, cute, or a daydream of what we all wish life had been like, now it rings out like a death knell for my erstwhile willingness to be some sort of true believer.

If anything, the change in direction heralded by this release points toward poorly realised glam rock. This does not feel like a sensibly thought out idea in the slightest. Was this some kind of death or glory gamble? I dunno, but either way, Beach Slang now feels like a shitty T-Rex (with James Alex as a shitty Marc Bolan) as realised by an inept Replacements covers band in the depths of a ketamine induced slump. What could have rang out bright and silvery like the bells of a theoretical heaven just sounds like the village idiot bashing tunelessly on a giant and dented cowbell.

Gutted, mate. Tony of Nurgle rating: 2/10

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