There’s this point at México‘s highway 180 where I usually said to my parents “I can smell the sea.” That was the ritual, the division bell that marked the end of a 9 to 10 hour drive from Mexico City to Tampico. It was the idyllic holiday, going to Tampico, as my grandfather’s house was quite close to the beach and every single jaunt was a new adventure.
The other ritual? Seeing the half-completed Tampico Bridge, which for many years stood incomplete, both halves looking like forlorn figures awaiting for an embrace that would not happen. You could see it from the Carpintero Lagoon as a pair of colossal figures that seemed trapped in time, separated by the Pánuco River.
And then, the bridge was completed. The holidays and jaunts to the beach stopped once my grandfather passed away and now only a few distorted memories remain. Sounds echo and reverberate in the dark recesses of the vault we call mind and those years are gone forever.
From time to time, one indulges into memories of times past and in those Byzantine discussions our memories and mind carry out daily, one can find something from your past that inspires you to create something that both embraces a good memory while still being fresh and new. Heck, above all, it’s something necessary to keep yourself sane.
Beach Day have done this, in musical form, as their debut album Trip Trap Attack clenches strongly the long gone era of surf and psychedelic while still having a fresh sound. It’s the sound of a thousand memories from childhood memories, intertwined together in a journey that lasts a little over 30 minutes.
From the starting notes of ‘Walking on the streets’ to the final refrains of ‘We’ve gotta go’, the reverb is cranked all the way to Faded Polaroid Mode and the sounds are as sweet as candy that is actually made of sugar (remember those?)
‘Walking on the streets’ is a slow groove, a deceptively slow start to Trip Trap Attack, but it was just a warm up, as the sauntering pace becomes a brisk jog with ‘Boys’ and ‘Beach Day’, peppier tracks that are sweet as molasses and certainly satisfying. ‘Stay’ reminds me of being educated in Motown music by my grandfather, an avid collector of vinyl. You can feel like air-drumming a tambourine to it.
Every trip back memory lane needs a slow ballad to remember a moment of flirting or a conversation with someone you quite fancied but never saw again. ‘Seventeen’ is that memory popping by, jolting the hairs in your neck and then slowly driving away, whistling ‘Earth Angel’.
But, Rock, aye? Beach Day do love it. ‘Trip Trap Attack’ has a mean, solid solo that drives madly, swerving at every corner. ‘Little Weird’ includes some organ action (is it a Hammond?) with enough clapping to get a revival choir excited for the gospel.
I’d lie if amongst the memories of Tampico I didn’t have one about star-crossed lovers and although it’s not a memory of mine, it is a memory of a brother who longed for a girl and the only times they were together were during holidays. What would life dealt them if they lived in the same city? ‘Come back to me’ helps me ponder and wonder.
‘Wasting all my time’ is my fave track in this gorgeous piece of Summery Rock and although the solo is not as full as bravado as in ‘Trip Trap Attack’, it flows so well. Memories surge, float and then fade away, leaving just a ghostly voice that seem to be whispering “don’t look back / you can never go back“*. A sensation conveyed by the urgency in ‘Am I the only one’. ‘We’ve gotta go’ turns down the Dream Pedal a few notches down and goes for a decisively more hard edge; an earthen – colored side of Beach Day that could very well the drive back home after a gorgeous day out in the coast.
With all the love for dream pop and shoegaze, I’d be amazed if this one slipped under the radar. Succinct, full of catchy hooks and some lovely musical ideas, Trip Trap Attack is an extremely necessary dose of pep for the every day grind.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López
*I might be obsessed with Don Henley‘s ‘Boys of Summer’.