Four years, a line-up change and a clutch of singles and EPs in the making, ‘Slow Grind’ is the debut album from Beach Skulls. If the band’s somewhat grim name and the despondent title suggests a miserable affair, musically at least it’s the kind of jangly, summery record that can bring sunshine to the occluded sky of a typical British spring day.
‘Slow Grind’ could well have been how The Libertines would have sounded if they'd spent all their time trying to sound like Ricky Nelson or Buddy Holly, given that the songs here all owe a significant debt to classic fifties rock ‘n’ roll. Standout track ‘Dreamin’ Blue’ is the kind of wistful, anguished song that Brad Pitt’s character in ‘Johnny Suede’ would have gotten hot under the collar for, albeit filtered through the same dreaminess that made early Real Estate so intriguing.
There's wildness here – such as on the bluesy melodrama of ‘Baby’s A Liar’ – but Ry Vieira’s band are adept at operating with elegant restraint, the result being a focus on delivering quality, pleasing guitar pop, the likes of which we don't often see in a time of yawnsome shoegazery triteness. It may be early to call the album of summer 2016, but one listen to the optimistic ‘Meet Me At The Beach House’ and you'll agree that Beach Skulls are serious contenders.
Words: Mat Smith / @mjasmith
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