The Upshot: What would you say to a mashup of Krautrock, shoegaze, dronerock, and the like?
BY JENNIFER KELLY
Beaches, the five-woman garage-psych band out of Melbourne, plays a mesmerizing blend of clatter and drone, undercutting sun dappled melodies with shifting undercurrents of buzzing tone. This double album is their third, following two previous albums that earned fervent praise in Australia; the second, Beats, featured a like-minded artist on guitar – one Michael Rother from Neu! This one relies solely on the home team, a seasoned group of musicians who include Antonia Seibach (ex- of Love of Diagrams), Alison Bolger (of Panel of Judges, Ali McCann, Gill Tucker (of Spider Vomit) and Karla Way.
That’s a guitar-heavy line-up with Seibach, Bolger and McCann all playing six-string, and indeed, the density and variety of guitar sounds is one of the first things you notice. After the wordless pound and exhilaration of “Turning,” the band turns to wide horizons drone in “Void,” with traded vocals and sweat-sheened overdrive evoking the much-loved Scottish band Prolapse or Austin’s Experimental Aircraft. “Contact,” later on, is even dreamier, riding a surf wave of swelling sound, its interlocking guitar and bass licks gamboling atop blissful surges of overtone. The singing is just fine, and will remind you of plenty of other bands in the Dum Dum Girls/Vivian Girls continuum, but it’s the heft and interplay of instruments that put these songs over.
Seventeen tracks makes for an extended listening experience, but there’s enough variety that you’re never bored. In fact, the second half seems to hit a little harder than the first, starting with “Arrow,” track ten, the most fuzzily pop of these tunes. The cut is upbeat to the point of euphoria, but slashed through with razory guitars, so that there’s a high but not a sugar high. “Walk Around” is more open-ended, but just as inviting, as sawing effects blister through radiant clouds of tone. Forget the girl group comparisons for Beaches – this stuff transcends gender – think instead of the great drone-heavy shoegaze bands, Bailter Space, Ride, Slowdive, and sure, why not, even Neu!
DOWNLOAD: “Arrow” “Contact” “Walk Around”