Beach Baby, Bullingdon, Oxford 25/4/16
Furthering the list of interesting new prospects that shuffle down the conveyor belt of much touted acts that could go nuclear in 2016 come Beach Baby, a west coast surfer rock meets jangle pop four piece ensemble from London. Recently signed to Island Records, lest the bands name and style wasn’t enough to evoke images of white sand and greeny blue sea, Beach Baby are another British band who are in the ascent without prescribing to any particular musical philosophy.
There is a definite and distinct Johnny Marr influence in both guitar sounds, a trebly, glimmering retrospective, but with wholesome choruses and noisy and chaotic instrumentals, they again leave us floundering for superlatives and wondering how these bands continue to strike up unholy unions from seemingly unconnected musical genres. The gig is one of ups and downs in every respect with at times rather jarring and overly abrasive use of high end, their retro keyboards, although a kitsch novelty, not helping a strange and unwelcome barrage of twang. Neither of the vocalists voices have the charisma or originality to win over the audience or demand attention and the overuse of “ooohhh ooohhh’s”, a phenomenon that effects marginalised backing vocalists, only adds to the irritating and confused timbre of the evening. With two or three songs of the set left, rather negative adjectives were circling and the review beginning to take shape as we braced ourselves for the finale. However their penultimate tune, Limousine, was the stand out song of the evening, the pace, tone and clarity of the track changed the whole perception of the evening and rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a number of flabby, mediocre compositions. Their finale Sleeperhead was also impressive and left a far more pleasant taste in the mouth to that which was envisaged some ten minutes previous. The penny dropped somewhat on what Beach Baby are attempting and indeed what they are capable of.
Something of a bi polar evening in every way, the overall take away was that of a band who with the right direction and management, which they will undoubtedly get from iconic publishing house Island Records, could in fact be on to something with their hybrid mixing pot of styles and influences. Like many breakthrough acts we see touring debut albums, there is serious room for improvement but it often takes bands a certain amount of nurturing and time to find footholds in the industry and it can be too easy to write off young and unpolished talent instantaneously. Some bands burst onto the scene with ethos and mantra clasped tightly to their work but there are others which need time to adjust to their surroundings. With that in mind, in the wake of Radiohead’s forthcoming ninth studio album, I’ll end this review with two words “Pablo Honey”.