Bands that refuse to grow up are bands that can’t evolve. Granted, the youthfulness of emo-laden punk dredges the cliched themes of being dead/alive and finding solace in drinking and drugs to a boring point of extremity. Despite this, groups like Against Me!, The Menzingers, and Western Settings captured what it meant to be a punk band that changes, grappling with the fact that everyone grows out of their punk phase. Or at least they should.
Admittedly, I can’t think of Beach Slang without wanting to think of Beach House—a considerably better, and arguably more influential band. Beach Slang, a punk band in the vein of Hot Water Music, Banner Pilot, and Off With Their Heads, have made a name for themselves off of punk clichés decades in the making. On their third LP, “The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City,” the group derails themselves further into wanting to be The Stooges or The Replacements. What’s worse is that in songs like “Tommy in the 80s” and “Nowhere Bus” the full influence of 80s glam rock/metal possesses their sound.
Shamelessly inept at writing lyrics with cathartic meaning, Beach Slang seem content at fortifying their position in being a foregone band who think they can create the next big punk classic. However, with “The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City,” it’s as if they’ve just completely re-recorded The Stooges’ “Fun House” (1970) but rearranged the lyrics and threw out all the lasting value of the original. In fact, if Beach Slang loved classic punk music so much, I would have enjoyed a covers album so much more.
An album like The Menzingers’ “After the Party” (2017) is one of the best examples of how to take the imagery of punk music and challenge nostalgia with the brevity of simplistic, yet well-written songs. Perhaps I’m overlooking the purpose of punk music’s tone; perhaps Beach Slang are just creating fun music, and that’s all it needs to be.
Notwithstanding any genre’s capability for “just being fun,” Beach Slang are not only living a facade, but they’re reinforcing the idea that their own music is trite and flawed. We know by now that music doesn’t always require meaningful lyrics to compensate for an evocative reaction on the listener, but in the case of “The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City,” I couldn’t care less about how difficult life is for a bunch of heartbroken punks.