Beach Slang became an instant hit in 2014 with a pair of EPs that provided fairly instant gratification. It was easy to fall in love with melodic, rugged sing-alongs about young romance, alienation, and pure infatuation when they came packaged inside tunes that split the difference between Jawbreaker’s emotive rumble and the accessible jangle the Goo Goo Dolls plied during their breakout. Aesthetically amplified with release covers paying tribute to subcultures past, from Beat poets and pop art to 1980s skateboarders, Beach Slang was and perhaps still is punk’s “it” guys, full package and all. The highly anticipated full-length debut doesn’t change the formula much, nor does it find Beach Slang throwing a ton of curveballs other than a kooky high harmony here (“Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas,” “Dirty Lights”) and a string-accompanied acoustic ballad there (“Too Late To Die Young”), maybe. Rather, it largely provides the same immediate thrill song in and song out, with urgent, rollicking tracks that corral maximum leverage out of limited thematic matters and concerns.
The band is still pulling liberally from a shelf where weathered copies of Pleased To Meet Me, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, Forever Now, and The Catcher In The Rye rest next to one another. Tracks like opener “Throwaways,” “I Break Guitars,” and “Hard Luck Kid” all ride an almost indistinguishable line in terms of lead riffs, frontman and guitarist James Alex Snyder’s raspy vocal phrasing, and musical dynamics, but the actual thrill they provide in the moment makes their otherwise glaring similarities forgivable.
Snyder lingers on a few topics, often with an “aw shucks” affectation: intoxication (“Ride The Wild Haze”), youth (the word “young” appears in two track titles), and camaraderie with the other outcasts who feel cut off from society (“Throwaways”). There’s also that other form of intoxication: the cathartic feeling one gets from expression, which Snyder is probably hoping to instill in the listener as well (“Noisy Heaven”) while he stocks song titles with descriptor hints. These ideas are beaten into submission until they’re understood and ingrained, but it’s across 10 immaculately tidy tracks, and if Snyder’s goal is to get the band’s points across and accomplish that feeling of catharsis all the same, then this record sure feels like a success.