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The Beaches: raw punk synth-pop hailing from Toronto

Pictured: The Beaches

The Beaches’ introductory release from 2013 embodies the essence of Fem-Rock. They build off of the Riot Grrrl sound of the early ‘90s, and add in a sort of Metric style synth-pop. Their sound is grimy clean, sort of like the feeling you get when you deep clean your house.  It is a raw sense of accomplishment and emotional purging, paired with a sort of grit and longing to take a shower, in the most wonderful way possible.

The songs off their self-titled album are the rawest songs of the bunch and rely heavily on punk-rock style guitar riffs on one hand, and heavy bass-filled synthesizers on the other. From the beginning of the song “Loner”, one is thrown into these two predominant aspects of their music. The song begins with a building electronic squeal and breaks into a simplistic yet angry drum pattern. The distorted guitar soon follows and the vocalist sings angsty lyrics filled with confusion, anger, and doubt.

From there on, the verses contain similar ideas. Romantic confusion, indignation, and their angst are just some things to notice.  At this point in the album, I will be honest, I felt like I had heard their sound before and was a little bit weary. However, as the songs continue, one begins to hear their sound change. The punk guitar and high volume continue for the most part but the electronic influence begins to reveal itself. Songs like “Boy Wonder” and “Wanna Know Your Name” show more of a synth element and it is the slight differences that break from their sound that makes their band so interesting.

Finally, my favourite song off Beaches is the more ballad-type, “Youth Lament”. It follows similar subject matter to the rest of the album but does so in a sad (yet optimistic) way instead of in pure anger. Delving into their second album was a bit of a different experience. The punk attitude is still there, but the production here seems fuller.

If the first album shows more of their punk roots, as a throwback to Riot Grrrl bands and the Runaways, then their second album, Heights, is a representation of their synth sound, sounding almost like the love child of Metric and The Gogo.  Their heavy distorted guitars, loud drums, and electronic influence all culminate in fantastic, catchy choruses and a general feeling of catharsis.
The first two songs, “Strangelove” and “Little Pieces”, both start with an electronic fade. Soon following are choruses, which are almost talk-sung and sound as if they were spoken/sang through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Their EP progresses with a similar sound and finishes off with a song called “Hey, I Love You”, almost as a call to their fans to say, “hey, love us, and we will do the same.”

The Beaches will be playing at The Red Dog on October 24 with Kids in Despair (KID).

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