From the “Beach” in their name to the ’60s girl group melodies, the surfy guitars and broken-winged angel vox to the…oh, do we really need to go further here?
Actually, yes, because first off, Jim Diamond produced this. The Jim Diamond who goes way back in the Detroit garage scene, recording so many great bands that he’s been around long enough to see some of them influence ones like this. So on this second Beach Day album, the percussion sounds are rich, and the vintage guitar tones captured with the ease and delectable fullness with which you and I grab and devour a bag of BBQ potato chips on the couch. And no doubt, given the utter ubiquity of their chosen genre, Beach Day is well aware that they best tweak their sound or get lost in the wave of lady-led, reverb-wash, garage pop-bands.
That might’ve been Diamond’s influence too, as while he’s known for creating and capturing fuzzed out garage stomp, he’s also got the smarts to know when to lay back. Like the way the guitars gently wah-wah in the back sometimes (BFF’s), get scrunchier when need be (Messin’ Around), and only occasionally go standard Jesus & Mary Chain fuzz-floating (The Lucky One), but never wash out the smooth, cruel-coy of singer Kimmy Drake. While she ain’t exactly Paul Westerberg in the lyric department, she can make her early-20s kicks’n’crushes wordplay sound more mischievous than it actually is.
Fades Away has some fine Farfisa-sounding keys. The vocal harmonic, Raveonettes’ demo-diving How Do You Sleep At Night is a lovely lilter. And Lost Girl showcases Drake’s voice more than usual, and proves that she’s at that developmental stage where she’s past insecure indie moper, strong enough to have to decide soon where she’s going to go with it, not unlike this whole summer crush genre.
At this point, this sound sits comfortably in TV advert boardroom pitch meetings. So it’s notable that even Beach Day’s instrumental here called (I’m not kidding) Gnarly Waves has a minimal eeriness to it, again resisting easy over-reverb to the point of almost making you believe its cheeky title is ironic. And following it up with the scrunchier Pretty, which sounds like Karen O trying and succeeding at boogie boarding, works well at bending away from the script a bit. It’s successful moments like that that reflect Beach Day’s stated view that getting out of their sunny Florida home digs and spending the Polar Vortex recording in Detroit got a wee bit of needed factory soot stuck to the wax on their boards.