Album Review: Beach Slang – The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City

Philly punk rock outfit Beach Slang are kicking 2020 off with a bang thanks to The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City. 

Released this Friday, 10 January 2020, rock and roll is back and we are here for it. This year is looking to be one of the strongest for rock music in a long time and it is well and truly a blessing. Beach Slang start things off with the drop of album number four (if you count 2018’s Everything Matters But No One Is Listening under Quiet Slang).

Opening with a string quartet interlude followed by grungy guitar riffs sets the tone for the record and tells you exactly what you’re in for. All The Kids In LA bares no lyrics and yet has the power to convey exactly what it needs to to get you hooked on this record. The following Let It Roll reminds of east coast punks such as Bouncing Souls or Dropkick Murphys with bouncing melodies and raspy vocals.

It’s a sound that winds its way through the record. Lead single Bam Rang Rang holds the lyrics that gave the record its name, but it does much more than just that. The mashup of Mississippi Queen and Smoke On The Water is just one of the strokes of genius Alex James displays on the album.

As with previous Beach Slang albums, all eleven written and arranged by James. The record was mixed by heavy-hitter Brad Wood, celebrated for his work with the Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair, and features The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson.

Second single Tommy In The 80’s takes a dive into classic rock zones of the 1980’s. Dedicated to late power-pop legend Tommy Keene, James Alex shares: ”We were on tour, somewhere outside of St. Louis. I was sitting on a scratchy hotel chair trying to write something. Nothing came. Charlie walked over, real still, and told me Tommy Keene died. I went all-the-way numb. You grow tired of the wrong people dying. I took the “Saturday night” bit from “Nothing Can Change You”. I took the title from “Warren In The 60s”. I took the horn part from “Deep Six Saturday” and the thump from “Turning On Blue”. Look, if you don’t dig this thing, no sweat—just listen to Tommy’s records. They’re the blueprint for all of it. Tommy, I hope I did real right by you, man. You’re the real-life goods and an absurdly sweet heart. And this thing is for you.”

But it isn’t all frenzied guitars and heavy choruses on The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City. Tracks like Nobody Say Nothing or Nowhere Bus are so light and eerie it takes you to a whole different level. Reminding us slightly of 2018’s Quiet Slang release, these songs are a wonderful opposite to the grunge infused heavyweights from earlier on in the record.

Born To Raise Hell and Sticky Thumbs are amongst the songs that then pick the pace back up, with almost hard-rock like melodies and riffs for days. The 6-minute-plus Bar No One Shoelace is the outro every album needs. Soft vocals, singing dark lyrics about death, religion and being remembered, over smooth piano and strings makes the listener feel like they are being carried away on a feather of music.

The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City would be great any time of the year but as a record to kick your year off with, it is an absolute gem. The heavy east coast punk influences are strong and glare loudly across the record. It is raw and personal and we may be calling it a bit early, but top ten records of the year.