There are those of us who are in dire need of a new Japandroids record, but while Brian King and David Prowse continue to work on a follow-up to Celebration Rock, there is a need to find at least a short-term fix. Beach Slang’s debut album fits the bill perfectly, and even its title of The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us perfectly captures that same mix of hopeful yearning and melancholic reflection. Every chord, every note, every breath feels like a matter of life or death, and the result is one of the most thrilling albums of the year.
Beach Slang does an excellent job of capturing key traits of some of the best indie rock music of the past few decades. James Alex traffics in “wasted youth” (with that adjective covering double-duty) narratives that recall The Replacements at their peak, and creates riffs that were inspired by the likes of Bob Mould (though the balance is more towards Sugar than Hüsker Dü). His gruff tenor and earnest delivery are more in line with rock revivalists The Gaslight Anthem, but with a certain level of hoarseness that instantly bring to mind 90’s rock radio.
The band maintains an energetic spirit throughout the album, keeping up a frantic pace over its ten tracks. Even the requisite ballad fits in perfectly by splitting the record in two, and its opening line effectively sums up the overall spirit of the album: “Too young to die, too late to die young” nails that awkward transition into middle age, as the triumphs and tragedies of youth sit firmly in the rearview mirror while the road ahead remains uncertain. For the most part, Beach Slang offers drinking and breaking guitars and relishing the moment as an effective remedy, and it is to their credit that this seems like a damn good solution.
In a year filled with several great records that rock your face off in less time than it takes for a pizza to be delivered, Things manages to stand out from the pack. The album is packed with great hooks and memorable riffs, delivered with an infectious gusto that will keep the listener’s spirit soaring long after the last strains of “Dirty Lights” fade out. It is hard to imagine encountering a more entertaining half hour this year.