“Play me something that might save my life” is one of the many calls for help on the opening track to Beach Slang’s newest record, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. Front man James Alex, as with many other tracks on this record, sounds like a he’s desperately trying to figure out how to deal with all these feelings within him and when he can’t find the right answer; he just finds another chorus to yell out until he does.
It’s fitting then that the band chose the album title they did for this project sounds like the rallying cry of every weirdo and punk who didn’t know their place growing up. Alex and the band find a good balance of chaos and calm that perfectly encapsulates the oddity of growing up. And while this new release is rocky at points it stands to reason that those types of bumps can be expected, especially when you’re dealing with the kind of intense emotions these songs bring out.
Right out the bat the albums message is clear; ‘Future Mixtape for the Art Kids’ has Alex begging for anything to keep him grounded during a time of instability. And while the message might be heavy Beach Slang smartly keep the sound fun and light. The chugging lead guitar and drumming (done by now ex-member JP Flexner) invoke the feelings of punk-pop bands like Fireworks and Joyce Manor.
On other tracks like ‘Atom Bomb’ and ‘The Perfect High’ we are treated to some of the bands catchiest choruses as Alex yelps the most intense feelings over and over in a cathartic trance that one can image a crowd screaming right back to him. It helps that so much of what he’s saying rings true, with tracks like ‘Art Damage’ sounding like the pep talk you might give yourself before heading out to another day in the hell that is high school.
However, the album tends to lean too heavily on these types of feelings and it can come across as juvenile. ‘Spin the Dial’ is a good example of this, with lyrics about taking drugs and drinking to find something out about yourself; it wouldn’t sound out of place in a bad YA novel. And then there are tracks like ‘Wasted Daze of Youth’ and ‘Hot Tramps’ which are clever in title only and don’t add much to the overall vibe to the record.
Still, when the albums hits, it hits hard, especially on tracks like ‘Art Damage’ or the fantastic closer ‘Warpaint’. Those tracks sound like Alex is speaking directly to the listener, guiding them through these emotional times with a helping hand. A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings is filled with these messy, loud songs that don’t always work right but they have the emotions that ring true to anyone who’s lived through the teenage years of their lives.
A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings is out now via Polyvinyl Record Co.