|Some bands are definitely too clever for their own
good, or at least they think they are. All this post-rock nonsense with
it's almost free style jazz pretensions. I'm all for people thinking about
the music they produce and anything that veers away from the staid and
redundant traditional verse chorus ad infinitum of the likes of Oasis
and their ilk has to be a good thing obviously. But beneath it all I still
want a tune to hum along to. If one band can manage to traverse between
using every knob on a mixing desk and still retain a pop sensibility then
it has to be Beulah.
Each and every song on their "When Your Heart Strings Break" album isn't content with one wonderful melody or twist when six or seven can flow throughout which is then allied with what sounds like a deep love of classic American pop. They've managed to produce an album that features along with the five band members no less than 18 guests playing strings, horns and accordion but they manage to combine it all with an almost lo-fi edge.
Imagine a parallel universe where when Brian Wilson re-emerged it wasn't under the guidance of Dr Eugene Landy but instead Stephen Malkmus, Wayne Coyne and Jonathan Donahue invited Brian to play in their sandbox. This is the album that'd emerge.
Take the first song "Score From Augusta" straight into some surfs up perfect harmonies, a keyboard that builds throughout each verse like a rocket taking off in a 50's b-movie and lyrics mentioning both whores and lepers. What more could you ask for? Throw in some nifty trumpet work and Wedding Present strumming and to top it all you've got another ten songs to immerse yourself in. On a mellower note you have "Silverado Days" sombre piano and a tender paean to a hero in rhinestones & brand new chinos. A real end of the evening, playing to an empty bar stroll. Rounding everything up you have "If We Can Land A Man On The Moon, Surely I Can Win Your Heart" and almost unbelievably you've got a wall of sound that throws everything into the blender and even surpasses the title.
There's also a previous album, Handsome Western States, that is a bit harder to find and the best news is the band are already working on songs for a new album