I asked a friend of mine if he’d heard the new Beaches album and he hadn’t. I asked, “You know them though right?” “I don’t think so” he replied. So in an effort to describe them in a sound bite I committed the all too pervasive transgression of comparing the female fivesome to bands we both knew. I said “Oh yeah the new album is great! They sound like a cross between Spacemen 3 and The Stevens.” While Spacemen 3 isn’t too far a stretch, in truth they sound nothing like The Stevens. I was grasping for an Australian band to define their geographical origin and The Stevens came to mind. Probably because I fell in love with The Stevens most recent album Good and because there has been a surge of great bands emerging from Australia in the past few years or so. Bands like Twerps, Dick Diver, Salad Boys, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Krakatau, and others have found a more global audience after bigger names like Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett rose to international fame. Still, what I had clearly missed in my comparison is that there are exactly zero women in Spacemen 3 or The Stevens. In a perfect world we wouldn’t even be talking about gender, but the reality is that this still matters and the female 5 from Melbourne are breaking the mold. Ali McCann (guitar/vocals), Alison Bolger (guitar/vocals), Antonia Sellbach (guitar/vocals), Gill Tucker (bass/vocals), and Karla Way (drums/vocals) weave a tapestry of sound of ethereal vocals and swirling reverb that recall 90’s Shoegaze as well as the Motorik beats that have become the hallmark of German Krautrock. In fact, the band’s sophomore release She Beats featured Michael Rother of Neu! on guitar.
On their third album, Second of Spring, Beaches release a mature and ambitious 17-track, 76-minute epic. From the first 90-second rising tide of swelling guitars to the ensuing chorus of “ah ah, ah ah, ah ah, ah ah, Ah! Ah!” Beaches find sonic metaphor in the perpetual motion of the ocean’s crashing waves upon the shore. Track 2, “Void”, slices into the open waters thrusting us at a fever pitch aboard a state of the art sailing vessel the Aussie’s have come to be known for. With the wind at our back, Beaches give way to “September”, a slower but still driving track that reminds me of something that might be found on Pell Mell’s 1995 album Interstate. Shit I did it again. Comparisons aside, Beaches craft their own unique blend of Dunedin Sound meets Neo-Psych meets Dream Pop that has resonated with many an indie kid for generations now. Track 5, “Natural Tradition”, is an all instrumental interlude which signals a shift in sound on the album. The next track, “Calendar”, conjures up the spirit of Miki Berenyi and Lush with it’s melodic but downtrodden lyrics and vocal styling.
Seems I am doomed, like history, to repeat myself with these cop out comparisons. Truth is, I want those who listened to the bands I’ve mentioned to run out and buy this album because I believe as much in it as I do the weight and reputation of the bands I’ve name dropped here. Perhaps it’s my love of all things Aussie, from “Mel-bin” (Melbourne) to Vegemite, or my love of truly great music as is the case here. Regardless, I can say with certainty that of the over hour and 15 minutes of music included on “Second of Spring”, you’re going to get sounds that build, swell, crash, and recede, just as any good beach will feature. Grab your board and head on out into the waters that will feed your sonic soul with Beaches best album to date. Surfs up!