The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City – Beach Slang

An album review


Album art from Beach Slang’s bandcamp website via Google Images

by Amy Bigelow

With the recent release of their latest musical endeavor, Beach Slang will perform in San Francisco on March 31 at Bottom of the Hill during their upcoming tour, which kicks off next month.

Their newest record delivers an energetic, unabashed attitude through a diverse range of instrumentation. Its malleable sound is tough, loud and sometimes serious. Amid the subtle infiltration of brass horns and traditional orchestra strings, Beach Slang asserts with audacious certainty that rock ‘n’ roll is still their favorite sin on the band’s fourth studio album “The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City.” 

Explosive guitar riffs and palpitating drums nearly overpower James Alex’s throaty voice throughout the tracklist, but the occasional somber tune interjects itself to unexpectedly break up the action, keeping the LP grounded.

Compared to the band’s earlier work, “Deadbeat” warrants a progression away from being consistently labeled under one definite genre. While Beach Slang has always been a rock-centric group with punk undertones, their early work appears to be more melodic and predictable than their recent punchy approach. 

Rather, the new album is an accumulation of different elements drawn from prior Beach Slang material and other influential musicians. As the follow-up to “Quiet Slang” (2018), which features orchestral renditions of the band’s first two albums, “Deadbeat” incorporates a similar musical style found in both the intro and outro songs. Surprisingly, the band melds together the softness of the strings and crunchy guitars on the first track “All the Kids in LA” seamlessly.  

Still, their rock roots remain intact at the album’s core — but that isn’t the only commonality still found throughout the band’s discography. Beach Slang continues to capture feelings of youth through Alex’s lyrics, driven by punk-infused instrumentation. This holds true for “Let It Ride,” the second track on “Deadbeat. “I’m headed out tonight for a real cheap thrill … my face ain’t much, but it pays the bills.”

For many devoted Beach Slang fans, it’s probably not a shock to discover the group channeling The Replacements, whose shambolic punk rock style continues to inspire Beach Slang’s musical approach, at certain points throughout the album. Especially with “Tommy in the 80s,” an ode to the late power pop songwriter and musician, Tommy Keene. The track features The Replacements Tommy Stinson on bass.

Alongside Stinson’s contributions, a more overt Replacements influence reappears toward the end of the record with “Kicking Over Bottles.” Emulating the same bass riff and horn section found on The Replacements 1987 hit, “Can’t Hardly Wait” from the album “Pleased to Meet Me.” Beach Slang creates an identical instrumental buildup and break heard on this track.

While Beach Slang may mimic their rock heroes, the band proves to to find their own identity on “Deadbeat.” Tickets for Beach Slang are available at Bottom of the Hill’s website or at the door.

Below is a Spotify playlist curated by Amy Bigelow

Beach Slang Spotify playlist