Beauty Pill – The Cigarette Girl from the Future EP

Beauty Pill
The Cigarette Girl from the Future EP

On the heels of Dischord’s last release, Q and Not U, comes another album that progresses the quirky, groovy rock sound of DC a little further along, and maybe a little further back, right where it belongs. Bands like the aforementioned Q and Not U and The Dismemberment Plan, as well as so many others, are wholeheartedly embracing the groove-based sound of bands from the 1970’s and incorporating it into quirky rock styles. Beauty Pill goes a step further, even, making this one of the coolest releases I’ve heard in a while.
Of course, featuring Chad Clark and Abram Goodrich of Smart Went Crazy, it’s possible to hear elements of DC’s older style of punk-influenced rock as well. With Clark on guitar and vocals and his so smooth singing style, it’s nice to hear that Smart Went Crazy influence. But the band adds a serious groove, hand claps, trumpet, moody bass, and other instrumentation into the mix, and it definitely mixes things up.
“Rideshare” starts with a part, a rioting guitar and bass attack with plenty of “wooo!”s thrown in. But then it mellows out, taking on an almost shoegazing feel, with echoed vocals and a swaying, chill structure. Don’t let it fool you, though, because the title track – a kind of mournful poppy punky dirge about how the future is nothing like what we planned – is totally different and fresh. Filled with hand-claps and groove-filled guitar lines, this song is deceivingly playful. Still, you get the sense Clark is looking at things with a bitter, sardonic eye as he sings “It was supposed to be moving sidewalks, jetpacks and hovercrafts. Mostly it’s the feeling of moving into a house where the last tenant was a suicide and the landlord looks at you nervously.”
“The Idiot Heart” features Joanne Gholl on vocals, and with booming drums, cello, and chiming guitar, the song has an almost staggering beauty at times. The throbbing bass line keeps it from sounding too out of place, but it really is a beautiful and slightly haunting song. I get chills as I hear Gholl sing “Strike sure, strike sharp, strike cold, aim smart. Strike deep into the idiot heart.”
“Bone White Crown Victoria” kicks off with a techno-style beat, and the entire song is different, sounding like a cross between The Jackson Five and Prodigy, with Spanish-sung vocals by Goodrich and hints of a Spanish flare. Finally, “Here Lies Rachel Wallace” is a kind of mournful eulogy. “Here lies Rachel Wallace, b66-d99. Overfed and undernourished. She supported herself fine,” Clark sings. Good friend J. Robbins even stops in to play some guitar on the song, which has a kind of spaced-out, funky feel despite it’s more depressing theme.
That’s what Beauty Pill are all about, really. The songs are funky and groovy while still firmly based in DC-style rock-n-roll, and you might think, just listening to the music, that the band’s all cheerful, just trying to get you up and swaying or dancing. But the songs have a kind of moody, dreary theme that lends an interesting dichotomy to every track. I like it, personally, and while I think this EP is mostly serving as a smattering of styles to see what works, it’s certainly a nice prelude to the band’s next effort, when we can expect Beauty Pill to really shine.