Album Review: Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?

Ten minutes and fifty-six seconds. That is all the time it takes for Philadelphia trio Beach Slang to make their statement to the world. In that short amount of time, Beach Slang shatters everything about the rock music scene of today by going back to the basics, daring to wear their heart proudly on their sleeves. Beach Slang’s first release, the four song EP Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken” was released earlier this summer, and to most everyone’s surprise, gained quite a bit of traction in the music world. Beach Slang’s specialty are to the point, pounding, guitar rockers that would have gone over well with the masses who filled small, cramped and sweaty music halls twenty years ago, donning torn plaid shirts and ill-fitting jean-overalls, while …Broken is a punchy, never-let-go release that possesses many qualities that many rock bands of the same ilk have lost in recent years. Beach Slang has been compared to a number of bands, albeit they have specifically been ones from generations before – most notably: The Replacements, Jawbreaker, and most accurately, the A Boy Named Goo incarnation of the Goo Goo Dolls. It is that last comparison that should turn heads, after all, it was the Rzeznik-led Dolls who possessed an unmatched and unbelievable knack for creating songs that not only legitimately rocked, but also conveyed true emotion in their earworm melodies, to the point lyrics, quality songwriting and raw energy in their musicianship that others could only dream about.

The four songs that comprise the EP contain a prominent, fuzzy guitar, muddled drums and simple bass lines that mimic the guitar melodies. Even though …Broken is brief, it is clear in these ten minutes and fifty six seconds that the same talent that Rzeznik possessed back in the mid-nineties also runs through the heart and veins of lead singer James Alex as well. First track “Filthy Luck” is the perfect opener and the strongest song on this quick set, quickly grabbing the listener by the collar and never letting go. The track opens with a screeching, ringing, over-driven guitar and then free-falls into a circular guitar and bass line a-la the Dolls’ “Long Way Down,” before getting right to to the core with the first line of “I’m a slave to always fucking up,” as Alex’s voice pours over the mix to the point of static overload. Later, during a breakdown, Alex takes center stage and conveys his modus operandi by perfectly delivering the line “turn the amps up to nine/I don’t want it too loud” in a snarled whisper, before the song explodes once again. While the overall sound of the band remains similar throughout the release, there are highlights in each track on this EP: the poetic lyricism of “Kids” (“I carved your name in mine and I thought all about how we stumble around until gravity sleeps and you slip and fall into me”), the melodic background vocals that “ooh” and “ahh” alongside more of Alex’s torn to the bone lyrics (“We’ll grow high not up. These books and bars and this honesty, they’re all I’ve got”) in “Get Lost,” and the very danceable rolling drums and picked guitars that litter the irresistible, repetitive chorus of “Punk or Lust.” The musical and lyrical highlights go on, but unfortunately, the EP does not, leaving the listener only one choice: to go back to the beginning and do it all again.

[originally published on sputnikmusic.com on August 18th, 2014]

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