Australian psych rock quintet Beaches present distorted yet ambient shoegaze on their whopping new 17-song double-LP, Second of Spring.
The record, a collection of mostly instrumental guitar jams, echoes the coastal noise pop of recent years while contributing psychedelic flavouring to the genre (think Best Coast on hallucinogens). Seemingly by design, pop-friendly hooks are rarely the focus, with energy spent instead on establishing creepy, constantly building layers of sound.
The vocals are so washy that the lyrics can hardly be made out, functioning less as a means of storytelling and more as an instrument on melody duty. Some synth-heavy moments on songs like "Bronze Age Babies" contribute an '80s homage seldom heard in contemporary surf rock. "Arrow" shows off Beaches' pop chops, while songs like "Natural Tradition" exemplify a masterful grasp on psychedelic moodiness.
The ambience of Second of Spring is pleasing for sure, but there's nary an earworm in the 17-song bunch. That's not objectively a bad thing, or even what Beaches wanted — the unique tone and stellar instrumentals make Second of Spring well suited background music for anything from studying to running. Just don't expect any of these tracks to be your new favourite song. (Chapter Music)