Philly punk outfit Beach Slang has been largely silent since the release of 2016’s A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, save for frontman James Alex’s 2018 stripped-down project, Quiet Slang, which re-explored the band’s catalog with cello, piano and Alex’s signature raspy voice.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the band has reloaded—with a lineup now includes Tommy Stinson of The Replacements, the same band that forms Beach Slang’s musical foundation—for the release of their third studio album, The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City.
As is typical for a Beach Slang record, the influences here are clear; Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” was the clear inspiration for “Tommy in the 80s” and “Sticky Thumbs” fits right in alongside most hard rock anthems from the ‘80s. “Kicking Over Bottles,” “Nobody Say Nothing” and “Let it Ride” are the most traditional Beach Slang songs on the album, delivering enough familiarity amongst an otherwise drastic stylistic shift.
While overall an exceptional record, the band does occasionally under-deliver; “Nowhere Bus” and “Born to Raise Hell” both feel like they were conceived from a single line, especially the latter, which somehow manages the impressive feat of repeating the phrase “born to raise hell” 20 times in a song that’s barely over two minutes long.
The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City feels like an ‘80s hard rock jukebox filtered through the grime and gut-punches of Beach Slang, and for the most part, it succeeds through James Alex’s unbridled earnestness.
Score: 🎸🎸🎸🎸/ 5