Published Oct 01, 2014In 2014, is there a way to compare a band to the Goo Goo Dolls and have it not be a negative? Much like that oft-maligned, multi-platinum three-piece did at the beginning of their career, PA trio Beach Slang channel Twin Cities heroes Bob Mould and Paul Westerberg into buzzy slabs of '90s alt-rock, complete with soaring vocal harmonies.
But Beach Slang aren't blind with nostalgia; they're the real deal. Singer-guitarist James Snyder was a creative voice in underrated '90s alt-punks Weston, and both Cheap Thrills and the group's previous EP, Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?, pick up where his work with that band left off.
Rounding out the group with former members of Ex-Friends and Nona, Snyder sculpts tracks that capture the ennui of youth without succumbing to the kind of pandering most men his age employ when talking to "the kids." Japandroids, though younger than Snyder, pull a similar trick, channelling youthful wanderlust into a universal celebration of booze, friends and music. "All I want are records on my stereo" rasps Snyder on "Dirty Cigarettes," "I need the struggle to feel alive."
Like their previous EP, Cheap Thrills is too short, its songs too sonically similar to be considered a major statement. Still, in an age of self-empowerment, it's hard not to get swept up in the loser anthem fervour of a song like "We Are Nothing," which suggests restless dissatisfaction only grows with age. (Tiny Engines)