Raw, honest and heartfelt, there's a sense of vigour and vitality that flows through the latest LP from Philadelphia's Beach Slang that transcends your everyday punk record. Much more than an ode to misspent youth, 'A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings' is an ode to a youth spent on the brink of giving up, yet managing against all odds to keep a grip, finding the strength to do so through only the kind of belligerent determination youth can muster.
And, much like the emotional furore only adolescence can bring, 'A Loud Bash...' manages to deftly balance feelings of teenage nihilism with the contradictory notion that everything matters so much more at that age in our lives. Rather than walk the fine line between the two, however, vocalist James Alex appears to define it; far removed enough for the subjects dealt with to feel intelligent and mature, yet versed enough for such sentiments as “The gutters align / with young hearts tonight” to feel painfully significant, instead of the cliché they could easily be in lesser hands.
Written when touring their first album, 'The Thing We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us', 'A Loud Bash...' feels both deeply personal and instantly resonant, resulting in a strange dichotomy of nostalgia and voyeurism that works in its favour. Inspired by talking to fans on said tour, it's the feelings expressed in their stories which provide the record with its resonance. The narratives expressed to Alex might be personal, but through him they become something bigger; successfully distilling the complexities of adolescent emotions in to a simple messages of solidarity: We've all been there. You can get through this.
It's the record's final track, 'Warpaint', that sums up the album's ethos most succinctly: “Tonight could be the roughest of your life / Don’t be afraid to want to be alive”. A familiar sentiment, though rather than feel like cliched reassurance, in the mouth of James Alex it feels more like a battle cry; a call to arms. Although coming quickly off the back of their debut might give people a cause for concern, the conviction with which it’s delivered should put to bed any negative preconceptions. An absolutely vital record.
Words: Dave Beech
- - -
- - -