From the book of “How to deftly avoid a sophomore slump” comes another example, filed under “B”. It’s Beach Day and now they are back with their sweet American rock, distilled in funky waterin’ holes in Hollyweird, Florida. The new album is Native Echoes and it sounds like, ah, well, we need to cover the songs before judging the full album, right? If you are rushing off to save starving sheep, then just jump to the last paragraph.
It’s a harsher album. This is not a bad thing. Things sometimes go sour, allegiances change, life happens and what used to be teal-coloured is now shades of grey. ‘All my friends were punks’ seems to be that reminiscence that sends you into an energetic rush to change name and leave town without paying bills or leaving a forwarding address. ‘Don’t call me on the phone’ sure seems to sport that bitterness down to the last twist of the lime and although ‘BFFs’ chooses to go for a slower mood, it’s required to walk off a bitter sense of longing, regret and general malaise.
‘I’m just messin’ around’ is a nice pace of change. Classic rock grooves are deftly recovered from a thousand mothball-guarded vaults, distilled and mixed in a catchy cocktail (with maraschino cherries – natch.) ‘Gnarly Waves’ is a lovely instrumental where the distant breaking of the surf is the sole companion of the guitar licks.
Now, although the first tracks from Side A appear to be slow burners, the first three tracks from lovely Side B are a joy. ‘Pretty’ is Beach Day recalling their previous release, warmly saying goodbye to those sounds. ‘The Lucky One’ is almost a Patsy Cline ballad, both in mood and storytelling. ‘Fades away’ almost goes for the psychedelic pop approach, but keeps both feet on the ground, arching its toes upwards a few times while you are not paying attention.
‘Lost girl’, now that’s when it gets interesting. Beach Day’s smouldering ditty sits in a bathtub, somewhere after 2 AM with a radio blasting ‘White Rabbit’ and eating grapefruit. It’s psychedelic but never lost in a maze of reverb, it’s mournful without being a dirge and it probably smothers the album in an ambient of sadness that has been hinted at in the previous songs.
‘How do you sleep at night’ is almost ghostly, perfectly described as a faded postcard stuck between the branches of a fallen tree. This postcard trembles from time to time when gusts of wind play with its integrity.
The Sun has now drowned in the ocean, amidst crimson, blue and green hues. A green flash waved the day goodbye and now night has fallen. Amidst the coconut crabs, bonfires and ne’er-do-wells cruising the vast, sandy infinity that is this beach, the slow notes from an old transistor radio persist, echoing an era apparently long gone. Those sounds were Native Echoes and the band is still called Beach Day.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López