Quiet Slang - Everything Matters But No One Is Listening
Everything Matters But No One Is Listening
On the torch passing album closer “Compton”, off of 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre rap about “manifesting music to live in” as an escape from the struggles of street life. In 2013, following the break-up of his long-running pop-punk outfit Weston and facing the prospects of a “real job”, singer/guitarist James Alex took the fire of youth and blended it with a few first loves: The Replacements and Jesus and Mary Chain, to rekindle in his middle-aged peers the rock and roll spirit, and create for himself a teenage wasteland to roam.
Several acclaimed EP’s and two albums later, his band Beach Slang is cemented as not only the loudest, but also the most sincere rock project in America. Overdriven guitars, heart attack bass, and a hammer-of-the-gods drum sound mark Beach Slang as unapologetic in a scene dominated by groups seemingly embarrassed by their own genre.
While the beer-swilling romantics have mastered the soundtrack for every dive bar and nostalgic rebellion; now with “side project” Quiet Slang, they follow their fans home for late night reflection and the next day’s hangover. Borrowing the minimalist chamber pop of The Magnetic Fields, specifically 2004’s i, James Alex has reduced his own songs down to vocals, piano, and cello. The sound is soothing, musical Valium, with no peaks to disturb its mellow valleys; a full record expansion on “Too Late To Die Young”, the acoustic reprieve off of their first album The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us.
Lyrically, the release succeeds on its ability to re-contextualize older words, allowing a 180 degrees spin on the band’s wall of sound to give phrases such as “the songs that I make, I barely rehearse them” and “the punks are wired, this record feels tough; its loud and wild, but I swear it feels soft” a new weight. This deconstruction of prior releases also serves to highlight Alex’s strength as a songwriter: the melodies are tightly crafted and affecting; the stories are visual and expressive narratives that could star a young Brando.
Everything Matters is, in essence, a stripped-down live set committed to wax, a virtual reversal of Connor Oberst’s Ruminations to Salutations concept of last year. And similarly, where Oberst’s songs lost some of their lonesome magic when tackled with a full band, Beach Slang have traded their cathartic onslaught for a rock and roll lullaby that while memorable in intention, misses the mark that its original recordings not only hit, but also obliterated.