Label: Big Scary Monsters
Released: 18th May 2018
After a whirlwind period encapsulating two albums of fizzing four-chord punk, Beach Slang can be forgiven for pausing for a breather. Teased by last year’s ‘We Were Babies and We Were Dirtbags’ EP, the first full-length by Quiet Slang showcases ten of the band’s best songs taken apart and reconstructed from the ground up.
The seeds of this project can be found on that EP’s B-side, a faithful cover of the Replacements classic ‘Androgynous’ informing the mission statement of Quiet Slang. The original is playful, piano-led and an inversion of the Replacements’ standard punk sound. Crucially it lets the Replacements’ most vital song lyrically (still) hit home. That legacy lays the groundwork for Quiet Slang, with James’ cover a loving tip of the hat.
With their standard sound swapped out, James Alex’s cigarette-soaked vocals are the constant here, intoning his heartfelt melodies in more hushed tones than the in your face bark of Beach Slang. He’s joined by The Warhawks, who provide choral harmonies. Instrumentally, there’s not a drum kit or distorted guitar in sight. Beach Slang’s four-chord vignettes are instead carried by delicate E-Street piano and a sombre cello.
‘Alternate’ albums are becoming increasingly common, but Beach Slang deserve credit for resisting the easy path of simply strapping on an acoustic guitar by making sure Quiet Slang showcases a true opposite. Musically, these new versions feel totally natural, with Slang’s melodies holding up to scrutiny and the simple chord patterns leaving room for piano and cello to decorate the songs.
A video for ‘Dirty Cigarettes’ was shot in a church, and these are arrangements that wouldn’t feel out of place in such surroundings, begging to be heard to where Beach Slang demands you scream along. As bodies fly around sweaty punk-clubs, it’s clear that these songs matter, but Quiet Slang provides a chance to make sure everyone is listening. Dillon Eastoe