Beangrowers – S/T

Beangrowers are a band from Malta, a small country near Italy as near as my limited geographical knowledge would indicate. They merge the flavor of a European pop band in with a kind of new-wavey American pop feel for a result that’s leaps and bounds ahead of their previous and debut album. Foresaking the more No Doubt style of pop on their debut, this album is more mature and sexy, in a way.

Undoubtedly the band’s best feature, lead singer Alison Galea has the perfect female vocals, sexy and sultry when it needs to be yet capable of driving a more rocking track. She also plays the keyboards, which are used extensively throughout, lending the album its Europop feel. Along with slick guitar and drums that go from powerful rock to sounding more like a drum machine, and you get a fine album that mixes pop with a kind of aggressive feel ala Garbage or Sneaker Pimps. It’s a good combination.
The opener, “This Year’s Love,” is a mix of 70’s style keyboards and mechanized drumming, tied together by those sultry vocals and making a nice-feeling Europop song, subtle yet sexy. It’s followed by the more upbeat and catchy “Teen Titans,” the album’s first single and a catchy, slightly Garbage-y rock song with some fantastic percussion and wild keyboard lines. A little slower and more deliberate, “Whitman” seems to have more of a European sound, and Galea sounds so sexy as she sings, “and then you dream of me for all eternity.” Some nice bass and a up-tempo rhythm makes “Ranchero” one of the more rocking tracks here, contrasted by the ultra-quiet, slightly loungy feel of “Calliope.”
One of my favorite tracks is the playful “Waikiki.” With a bouncy, lounge-poppy feel, fantastic vocals, and cool retro keyboards, it has a wonderful ambience. “Love Out There” reminds me of a more sultry Depeche Mode (with a female singer), while “Jose Clemente,” with soft horns and a more leisurely pace (and incredibly catchy chorus that mentions a rhinoceros) is a bit more poppy. Showing off another side of their versatility, the haunting piano and effects-laden vocals of “The Devil’s Drum Box” give the song something of a gothic feel. And the band ends with the quieter “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” which vaguely reminds me of a Placebo song with some neat effects.
Beangrowers hope to release this album in the US, and I predict it could do well. It has that kind of English-American slightly new-wavey pop feel that would go over well with fans in either country, and the production is top notch. But even if it doesn’t make it to the states and radio, I’m still happy with this find. Mature and clever pop songs such as these are a rare find.