A genre can sometimes be a useless, misleading way of explaining what an artist sounds like and allowing listeners to decide ahead of time whether they like them. It’s definitely not the best description to call Beach Slang’s The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, a straight ahead punk album, though it could be placed under the broad umbrella of the genre. It’s got the energy and general vibe; singer James Alex has a sandpaper-rough voice and a way of singing that makes you think he’s straining as hard as he can against his vocal cords. Though he hardly even gets to the level of a shout, his lyrics convey a generous amount of sincerity. It’s punk rock that never rocks too hard, pop-punk that’s comfortable and familiar without drowning you in nostalgia. It’s dreamy punk, just as good of a soundtrack for contemplating and cloud watching as it is for thrashing around your living room.
It’s also meta-punk, as Alex focuses his the songs he writes and music he plays on the process itself. On “Noisy Heaven,” he finds salvation in being “Way out of tune, turned up to 11” as he admits “ The songs that I make, I barely rehearse them/ They’re hardly mistakes, they’re meant to be honest.” On “Ride The Wild Haze,” he wants to “Make the loudest sounds until we feel something.” “I break guitars and waste my voice,” he emotes on “I Break Guitars,” but he still finds safety and comfort in rock & roll, blurring his pain into sounds on “Dirty Lights.”
And although Alex states an obvious fact by including the track “Too Late To Die Young,” there’s a youthfulness to the album, hammered in by the fact that he also refers to himself as a kid, or sings about being young just as often as he shares his adoration of music. Being a punk implies its own youthfulness – teenage and twenty-something angst, being misunderstood, being an outsider. Did Beach Slang grow up? Yeah. But fortunately, they never grew away from those feelings.
The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us will be available via Polyvinyl on October 30. In the meantime, you can stream it here.