Beaches – Second Of Spring

Beaches – Second Of Spring

I will admit that Beaches were only vaguely known to me until quite recently, their name jumbled together alongside Best Coast and Beach House and one or two other similar bands whose music would appear every so often in my streaming playlists and whom I had decided were at least listenable. Some will know of them from their 2013 album She Beats which featured input from krautrock luminary Michael Rother and which doubtlessly upped their profile amongst fans of Cluster and Harmonia. Now a decade into their career as garage-grunge and noise-rock practitioners, the 17 tracks that constitute their third album reveal Beaches as committedly energetic and prescient musicians, whose style ranges from three-chord thrash to electronic ambience. It also has the air of a compilation of their studio work during the four years that separate Second Of Spring from its predecessor.

Mixing songs and instrumentals seemingly at random, there is much to suggest throughout Second Of Spring that Beaches are very keen aficianados of mid-’90s dream-pop, and that of Lush, Curve and Sleeper – all of them female-fronted – in particular. Nothing very wrong with that, and Second Of Spring begins to seem like two separate albums, one a motorik semi-grunge instrumental sequence and the other a bubblegum shoegazey pop record. Opening track “Turning” drives along like Ride fronted by Louise Wener, although it isn’t entirely representative of the rest of the album, as matters take a turn away from grunge and towards a sound that’s, well, very redolent of how Lush are remembered, girl-group harmonies backed with swathes of phased and echoing guitars, as with fourth track “Be”, although what that’s followed by takes us in yet another direction.

“Natural Tradition” is an instrumental and its recurring guitar motifs and expansive production more than hint at Michael Rother’s continuing association with the band, and there are more instrumentals to be heard later during the course of what is an unpredictably eclectic collection of tracks, revealing that Beaches possess several strings to each of their bows. The variance in the band sound does indicate that the seventeen tracks are collated from more than one set of sessions, and woozy dream-pop cut “Calendar” and the repetitively mechanic “Contact” don’t, at least superficially, share a common thread but by now Beaches prodigious creativity has won the day and while songs like “Arrow” and “When You’re Gone” seem confusingly similar, it’s Beaches instrumental tracks that are also seemingly their most imaginative.

The concluding three tracks of Second Of Spring are all instrumentals, the archly timed “Grey Colours”, the delay-pedal-infused “Mothers And Daughters” and finally, the nine minutes of measured electronica that is “Mutual Delusion”, which ends the album on an audibly Kraftwerkian note, ambient and insistent.  After hearing the seventeen tracks of Second Of Spring in their entirety you might find yourself hearing references to other bands and musicians than are mentioned anywhere in Beaches album info, but that just proves their versatility as musicians and arrangers of their own work, and those of you that are already acquainted with Beaches will greatly appreciate Second Of Spring.

Chapter Music