HENRY DRAKE reviews Alex Giannascoli’s latest album.
This album is for the die-hard indie pop kids still crying themselves to sleep while listening to the Juno soundtrack, with an unremembered nostalgia for the 90s indie scene.
Prolific lo-fi bedroom act Alex G continues to make strides within indie pop circles with his latest LP Beach Music. After his last record DSU was reissued by the hot alternative label of the record industry, Rough Trade, G has managed to land his first big label deal with Domino Records. The label has been integral in helping him gain exposure, and have funded his genre-expanding endeavours on Beach Music.
Put your smiles and careless summer attitudes away. This isn’t a Real Estate record or a GROWLERS record or an Allah-Las record. Its called Beach Music. Not your traditional sunny beach, but the kind of cobbled beach on the north Atlantic where you’d walk into the water with a barbell chained to your ankle. Not to say this isn’t a great listen; it’s just not exactly what G has labelled it.
First, we wade through the cacophonic electronics and wailing of the introduction (which can only be described as something from an entirely different album G is working on, maybe with an electro-metal band). Next, we transition into ‘Bug,’ a stripped-down indie rock tune which sets the tempo for the record. With the weighty guitar riffs of ‘Kicker’ and subdued melodies of ‘Bug’ and ‘Thorns,’ G’s tracks hark back to apathetic 90s indie rock: he could almost be covering early Modest Mouse demos. Though G’s influences are noticeable, he revives them with his own flare through pitch shifting, vocal layering, and synthesizers, making the record a more surprising, entertaining listen.
Track five: the slow and eerie drumbeat of ‘Salt’ sets in. The organ and guitar, with reverb turned to 11, follow shortly after and we start to feel that G is heading somewhere new with Beach Music. He perpetuates this ominous mood by employing new and expansive sounds on ‘Look Out,’ while still using strong pitch shifting elements, making his voice sound like a pleading child. These aspects of the record show us that G is not just reproducing the nostalgic, 90s indie love record that the first few tracks suggest. He is using elements foreign to the acoustic lo-fi scene to create something fresh and innovative.
He follows this with the stomach twistingly charming ‘Brite Boy,’ where he claims the hearts of all indie pop fans who are able to recall a solitary youth. The use of pitch shifting enables him to create an enchanting duet, as well as provide childlike backing vocals. The resultant song is suitable for any Michael Cera movie or playlist with Juan Waters or Frankie Cosmos in it.
The album does occasionally fall flat in areas, with aimless instrumentals and tracks like ‘Walk’ or ‘Mud,’ in which vocal deliveries are overly muffled and devoid of character or direction. But what Beach Music lacks in direction it makes up for in quirkiness and ability to blend foreign sounds. It does this while at the same time incorporating the classic elements of lo-fi, giving it the ability to stand out and transcend genre boundaries.
Beach Music was released on October 9th on Domino Records