The music of Australia's Beaches is hard to describe. It is almost as if this stuff was beyond any genre, even while it's clear that it shares attributes with a few. The band's new album, Second of Spring, is out tomorrow on Chapter Music and it's an epic, double-length LP that affirms this band's place as masters of this sort of surging and propulsive post-rock, for lack of a better term.
If "Void" recalls anything it's the music of Brit band Loop, while "September" veers closer to Spacemen 3 stuff. Now, if you think there's not too much difference between those 2 comparison points, you're not an astute listener. The more languid "Natural Tradition" adds a space-y vibe to a number that sounds a tiny bit like Yo La Tengo in their most expansive moments, or those acid-y excursions from Eleventh Dream Day. Elsewhere, "Arrow" rides a supple rhythm into oblivion like a catchier take on Eighties-era Sonic Youth, or a harder version of Look Blue Go Purple's material. At their very best, Beaches modulate this sort of proto-shoegaze attack into something more accessible, like on the VU-inspired drone-rock of "Walk Around", while the lyrical and melodic "Grey Colours" suggests some wonderful combination of Disintegration and that latest Slowdive record. Second of Spring closes with the trippy "Mutual Decision", nearly 9 minutes of Fripp-ish guitar lines and half-buried vocals.
Beaches make compelling music of the sort that would easily be tedious in the hands of lesser musicians. That this double-album never really bored me is saying something as I can think of a few bands that have recently attempted this kind of music and failed. In the moments where Beaches blend a rich melodicism with some really brave guitar work-outs, the effect is a wonderful one. That so many of them pop up on the sprawling Second of Spring makes me recommend this highly.
[Photo: Darren Sylvester]