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Everyone has heard the old cliché that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So what’s the cliché with us? The answer is simple – create an album that sounds and feels like the ’80s and early ’90s, sprinkle in some crystalline guitars, and you’ll immediately grab our attention – or at least mine anyway. We’re talking about the breezy, infectious pop of the time, not the cheesy, over-the-top synth-based music of that era. As an example, look no further than Beverly‘s sophomore album, The Blue Swell.
This terrific album could be the soundtrack to ’80s and early ’90s pop, as it touches on all corners of the genre with aplomb. “South Collins”, for instance, is a beautiful and breathtaking number that could be mistaken for a tune on Lush’s Scar. The summery “Crooked Cop” is jangle-pop personified, filled with that familiar tickle of the guitar strings and frontwoman Drew Cintron’s smooth vocals, which will leave chills down your back. It’s a song that resonates with the beautiful, melodic simplicity of The Pains of Being Pure of Heart and Teenage Fanclub.
Similarly stunning is “The Smokey Pines”, which is a stargazing song that is meant to close your eyes to and just listen to Cintron’s story about growing up and moving. This track would have been perfect for Sixteen Candles or Singles.
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Not everything is smooth and summery on The Blue Swell. The opening track, “Bulldozer”, bursts out of the gate with the blistering guitar work of Scott Rosenthal before easing into a jangly rocker a la Dum Dum Girls. Cintron’s vocals remains whispery intoxicating, making it the perfect contradiction to the scintillating guitars that percolates throughout the track. “Contact”, likewise, has a grittier side, yet the song is filed with gorgeous melodies. On this tune, Cintron sounds like a carbon copy of Debbie Harry while Rosenthal does his best interpretation of Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade, Divine Fits, and Operators fame with his shoegaze yet edgy notes.
“Lake House” is the album’s darkest and most haunting song. There are traces of Siouxsie and The Banshees in the track with its understated goth-rock vibe and nervous energy. “Victoria”, meanwhile, echoes Liz Phair musically and lyrically. While the song may induce involuntary body swaying due to the sweet melodies, there is a brutal honesty in the song’s lyrics about the misguided choices of a person.
There is nothing misguided, however about Beverly have crafted. The Blue Swell is undeniably an album influenced by the ’80s and early ’90s, but it takes all the great elements from this often misunderstood era. If only Drew Cintron and Scott Rosenthal were around then to create music, then maybe we would be looking back at that time and agree that time was simply brilliant. For now, we’ll just leave that adjective for The Blue Swell.
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