Melbourne’s Beaches new album She Beats has all the ingredients that help make an excellent record: loud guitars, dreamy, reverbed vocals, a solid rhythm section, and NEU!s Michael Rother’s seal of approval(plus his guitar playing on a couple tracks). She Beats is a mix of lo fi graininess, zone-out atmosphere, psychedelic colors, and some good old fashioned rock n’ roll bombast.
“Out of Mind” opens the album with some jangly guitar spray before the song jumps into gear and brings to mind Primal Scream’s noise/melody recipe for ear candy. The song puts off a tape hiss, lo fidelity vibe, all the while never sounding too lo fi. The dark aural shades only add to the song’s mystique and proves to enhance the already dreamy vibe. “Keep On Breaking Through” rolls in on a steady ride cymbal and some reverbed guitars, giving the song an almost “Riders On The Storm” sound, minus the thunderstorm sound effects before the space echo takes the track into the milky way. Beaches, while they conjure dreamy soundscapes and ambience in the form of swirling guitar chords and echoed riffs, don’t fall under any sort of shoegaze category. These Melbourne ladies play guitar with bravado and attitude more in tune with the likes of Erik “Ripley” Johnson or Wayne Kramer, as opposed to Kevin Shields or Andy Bell. They don’t coax sound from their instruments as much as they pull them out with swift, stern strokes. “The Good Comet Returns” brings to mind old Cure, back when they were still a 3-piece with something to prove. “Distance” is the centerpiece track with Michael Rother jumping in on guitar to give it that motorik drive. Vocals barely treading the musical waters become part of the overall sound as opposed to being the centerpiece. Vocals are merely another instrument used to paint on the canvas. Vocal duties are shared throughout the band, but all the voices seems to blend into one. “Weather” is a loud and brash tune that brings Sonic Y0uth to mind, both in its disorienting guitar squall and its Kim Gordon-esque vocals. Beaches tendency to explore the limits of the guitar on this record give it that Sonic Youth spirit throughout. “Granite Snake”, the other tune Michael Rother puts his musical stamp on rides along a steady drum beat and echoed feedback and distortion for five and a half glorious minutes. She Beats revels in these beautifully noisy soundscapes. It’s refreshing to hear a band enjoy making such a ruckus, and making it sound so effortless. “Tanzanite” has a bit of a Ride sound, most notably in the harmonies lurking in the mix. “Runaway”, the closing track, opens with a lone bass line bringing The Breeders to mind. The Deal sisters continue to haunt the track with the slightly off-kilter vocals and noisy guitar. There’s even some surf rock in the tremolo guitar towards the end.
Beaches She Beats is a wonderfully noisy album. Its unabashed love for noisy guitars, swirling atmosphere, and at times Krautrock tendencies makes it an album to be enjoyed with a beer, headphones, or cranked speakers. The beer is a must.