“Beach Slang” channels youthfulness

Philadelphia punk band crafts one of 2015’s most honest records.



Christian Davis, Writer

My dad once told me, “The great thing about punk is that if you hate the song, it’ll be over in two minutes anyways.” Only one out of the ten tracks on Beach Slang’s debut clocks in at over three minutes, and even that one never passes 3:20. The entire affair is over in a blistering 27 minutes, leaving no time to catch your breath. For some, it can be reduced to a textbook pop-punk experience — 26 minutes of power chords and hearts on sleeves. For the rest of us resident romantics, “The Things We Do to Find People Like Us” could stand to be hours longer.

Concerned with Life and Meaning

None of us turn a blind eye when fabulously wealthy celebrities sing about being young forever. The reason why punk exists is to bring this universal ideal down to a garage-level, down the street mentality — songs sung by people who need to feel alive after a 9 to 5. It gives people an outlet to scream about being young and wild and drunk, without having to wade through mainstream radio for a “hit” with half the sonic integrity and none of the authenticity punk offers. Beach Slang is concerned with life, and how we find meaning in music and our relationship with the form.

Dealing in Honesty

“Heart on your sleeve” is the buzz phrase surrounding this record, and intentionally avoiding this description is pointless. Singer and lyricist James Alex Snyder has evolved the confessional qualities of Beach Slang’s earlier EP’s, “Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street” and “Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?

Snyder would be the first to admit his own brokenness. You cannot get through these records without feeling like you know the guy behind them at the finish. Snyder’s own personality is embodied into these songs. You can hear the packed Philadelphia basements Snyder no doubt found himself in echoing throughout the record. “The night is alive, it’s loud and I’m drunk / Kissing the mic and singing about us.” Beach Slang shoves all pretense aside and deals in honesty.

At Eye-Level

There is no longer a sharp distinction between artist and audience. It reminds me of DIY spaces where punk bands play on the floor. Nothing elevates them from the crowd. Everyone exists at eye-level, rooted in a shared desire for musical catharsis. Snyder works with this ideology lyrically, boiling down the experience of live music into simple anecdotes. “There’s honesty in these neon lights / We’re animals, drunk and alive / I swear, right now I’m alright.”

Maybe these songs are honest to help us become more honest with ourselves. Maybe we need more musicians like Snyder to voice the simple longings we are too shy to admit. “The Things We Do to Find People Like Us” exists to be given to significant others on mixed CDs, and shamelessly blared through open car windows — a romantic notion, but one incredibly fitting.

A Dreamer Head

On a post on Beach Slang’s Tumblr, Snyder wrote a little bit about a mixtape covers album he released on Cassette Store Day. “Some people tell me I overly romanticize rock and roll. That I have too much of a dreamer head. I’ve never apologized for that. Nah, not even once,” said Snyder. He might have meant to discuss this one cassette, but I like to think he accidently wrote the band’s mission statement.

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