Saturday, February 20, 2016
Album Review :: Beach Fatigue - Beach Fatigue
March 4 2016 (Kool Girl Records)
Words: Richard O'Hagan
You might remember this Welsh four-piece as Heavy Petting Zoo, who put out the punky ‘Isabelle’ as a split single with fellow countrymen The Joy Formidable early last year. Now they’re back with a better – and arguably less pervy – name, and a debut album.
The sound remains very much the same, though. In fact, ‘Isabelle’ makes an appearance here, as does the first HPZ release ‘Crash’. The best track by far, though, is the Beach Fatigue debut ‘Drunken Grrrls’, echoing perfectly the Riot Grrl movement of twenty years before, spinning a tale of happy, violent, drunken nights out, but then throwing in a layer of musical sophistication that the likes of Huggy Bear not only failed to achieve, but positively eschewed.
The violence reoccurs on ‘Cut Throat’, but in a darker form as Amy Zachariah’s leaping vocals pull together a tale of infidelity, culminating in the refrain “You! Me! Her! Outside!”. Indeed, the whole album finds its inspiration in the seedier, darker side of life, be it ‘Crusade’ with its references to begging for money, to the “Ah, what the fuck?!” exclamation punctuating ‘Carousel’, all laid over a pounding rhythm reminiscent of The Slits and Bow Wow Wow at their best.
In all, this is a welcome merging of those old school musical influences, modern musical technology and a brutalist approach to songwriting. In some respects the album is a couple of tracks too long, because the whole makes for punishing listening – but then maybe that’s the idea.