Rumors of a dying genre
If you’ve ever heard rumors of rock music dying one day, today might be the time to believe them. And not just rock music, but rock bands, rock bars – an entire culture is fading. Prince probably attested to its cause better than anyone else, speaking in his new posthumous autobiography The Beautiful Ones, “monkeys and primates could sell music…people feeding people to people. We need to tell them that they keep trying to ram Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran down our throats and we don’t like it no matter how many times they play it.” Whether it’s true of opinion or not, there’s this conglomerate manure that musicians are expected to grow out of today, and it’s so pasty that even the bands who are trying to save rock music can’t without succumbing to the smell.
Beach Slang epitomizes the long-gone days of teenage rock. Their latest studio album, The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City, erodes time away, seemingly without concern for chart pleasing standards. But if these are the bands that are also meant to be reviving rock, it’s hard to believe it will ever make a comeback.
The record is doused in Springsteen melodies and porcelain riffs, old school shredding and heartbreak hits. If Starship built another city, it would be called “Tommy in the 80s,” Beach Slang’s true ode to proper heartland rock. The style of this track dominates the record, and while it is brought back with unyielding resilience, it just can’t breathe in today’s musical climate – the record is choking on its own sound. The reality is that it’s an outdated sound, and while that’s still no excuse to only endorse pop bangers, we need to recover the qualities of genuine rock ‘n roll a different way. Not even The Black Keys’ latest album was able to do it, and so it finally seems that the only way to bring back rock music, is to reinvent it. And if that is the case, then Beach Slang is certainly far from reinvention.
“Let It Ride” growls moreover than moves, and when put against the sparse strings of tracks like “Nowhere Bus,” there’s no new styling to notch this record past mediocrity. It’s all just stolen method. The tracks are also incredibly predictable. “Born To Raise Hell” is a straight lick with some head-bang vocal cuts and absolutely no sense of direction. “Sticky Thumbs” is hedged around the same pandemonium, and the “sticky thumbs, sticky thumbs” refrain will come out to be worst of 2020, I’m calling it now already.
If there’s anywhere that the band succeeds, it’s in the slight instrumental indulgence. It’s here that they stop imitating and start creating. The same can be said for their steady use of strings across the record (“All The Kids in LA,” “Bar No One”). It’s the small inclusions like these ones that make all the difference, and had they rested more singularly on them, rather than copy the remnants of Steven Tyler’s glam metal, they would surely have come closer to reviving that sound in a more believable and lasting way. But for now, it’s Philly anthems and rumours of a dying genre, and that’s about it.