|Beaches — She Beats (2013)|
Beaches — She Beats
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genre: Garage / Psychedelic / Tropical
Album release: May 3, 2013
Record Label: Chapter Music/Mexican Summer (US) Mistletone (Aus)
01. Out Of Mind 4:23
02. Keep On Breaking Through 2:24
03. Dune 3:58
04. Send Them Away 3:53
05. The Good Comet Returns 2:32
06. Distance 5:03
07. Weather 3:03
08. Granite Snake 5:28
09. Tanzanite 4:17
10. Veda 3:47
11. Runaway 3:41
Members: Ali, Al, Antonia, Karla, Gill
Agent Beaches direct: UK/Europe: .
By Patrick Bowman; May 9, 2013 (Editor rating: 7.2)
¤ Melbourne-based Beaches received acclaim at home when their self-titled 2008 debut was shortlisted for Oz’s prestigious Australian Music Prize-- rubbing shoulders with Oceania indie rock A-listers like Cut Copy, the Presets and the Drones-- and got included in the 2010 compendium/compilation 100 Best Australian Albums to boot. Beaches was born out of casual jam sessions between friends who were between bands and never really thought they’d get any attention with the project. Their songs are simultaneously dense and amorphous, and often named for opaquely vast signifiers-- their 2008 debut included cryptic monoliths “Horizon”, “Eternal Sphere”, and “Vikings”-- and the music follows suit. Occasional flashes of saccharine girl-group melodies and the Ramones' glue-sniffing simplicity are usually warped and distorted into sprawling, phantasmagoric psych rock suites, almost always built atop a metronomic krautrock drive.
¤ It makes sense that for She Beats (released on the esteemed Australian Guy Blackman-run label Chapter Music) they've enlisted Michael Rother of Neu!, Kraftwerk, Harmonia, and Cluster (who became smitten with Beaches after crossing paths at the 2009 Melbourne iteration of All Tomorrow’s Parties) to record two tracks, lending the whole project his krautrock seal of approval. The result is a dusty, sun-bleached collection of loose-fitting psychedelic noise/prog that pulses with unnerving Teutonic precision. The hazy, 60s pop still makes disaffected appearances (the band members switch vocal duties but their uniformly slurred intonation leaves their identities fluid), but there appears to be a larger focus on corralling their distortion-drenched, loopy guitar work into something approaching Thurston Moore’s barely contained squall.
¤ First track “Out of Mind” pretty much sets every influence Beaches has out on the table for a deceptively complex guitar epic. Between Allison Bolger and Ali McCann on dueling rhythm guitar, and Antonia Sellbach on lead, there are enough memorable riffs for four songs here, exploring garage rock, psych, and solos half-nabbed from “Teen Age Riot”. It’s arguably the best composed song on the album, stitched together with an eye for build and release that belies the meandering jam sessions that birthed this band. Though the lesser tracks-- like the Quicksilver-cribbing “Keep on Breaking Through” and the Eastern-influenced “Veda”-- are marred by indecsision, coming off as extended interludes rather than song-songs.
¤ The Rother-featured pairing of “Distance” and “Granite Snake”, however, expertly display the group's strengths in a way that feels loose, exciting, and dynamic; “Distance” in particular is mesmerizing in the way it melds the group’s shoegazing tendencies, soloing abilities, and ambient pop vocals, with the lockstep of drummer Karla Way driving a song that comes off focused rather than repetitive; each guitar riff and subsequent key change seems like a revelation. “Granite Snake” is a masterclass facsimile of the sound Rother has become known for, with bassist Gill Tucker’s grimey riff used to build a rich tapestry of zooming guitars.
¤ She Beats ebbs and flows in strangely sinister formations, sustaining a woozy unease that's hard to pin down. The record's most thrilling moments occur when Beaches force the demarcation between the diamond sharp rhythm section and the improvisational flourishes of the guitar work to slowly dissolve with measured control, revealing weird hypnotic depths forged from the group's established, and seemingly limitless, chemistry.
By Justine Keating
¤ It’s been a while since Melbourne all-girl psych-rock five-piece Beaches have put anything new on the plate. Their debut self-titled effort was released in 2008 and there’s been very little activity since. While they’ve kept fans on their toes in the three years following their 2010 EP Eternal Sphere (the only release since their debut full-length), Beaches have been digging into the nitty gritty of what made these two earlier releases so good, honing their craft to create something even better with She Beats.
Essentially, Beaches haven’t changed a whole lot since their debut. She Beats, like the releases that came before, is all fuzz and wall-of-sound with just the right dose of psychedelic grit. These are five girls who really know how to do that psychedelic thing, so you can hardly blame them for sticking to their guns. Somehow, through all the indistinguishable screeches of guitars and ample amounts of feedback eating up their highly reverberated vocals, their songs are incredibly catchy.
¤ They’ve managed to extract a poppy essence from songs shrouded in static (the opening track Out Of Mind owes its momentum to the sugary surf-pop harmonies), and that in itself is impressive, but in Keep On Breaking Through, The Good Comet Returns and Granite Snake, the girls drop the vocals and play with a proggier sound – a sound that they absolutely nail.
¤ She Beats isn’t too far removed from their prior releases, but it is a huge step up. Beaches have really upped the ante with this tighter and more intelligently constructed album.
¤ Justine Keating: (http://themusic.com.au)
|Beaches — She Beats (2013)|