I suppose to compare The Beatings to The Boss is to say that on Late Season Kids The Beatings are more confident, and have edited their songs more thoroughly, than before. The playing and performances are fully thought out, and all the big gestures hit the target. The middle of the album doesn’t sag, and no song sticks around long enough to wear out its welcome. And even if that last bit is very unBoss-like, it's definitely indicative of a tight and professional group of musicians.
Musical proof of the band’s new self-assurance is right there in the “sha-la-las” that underpin the chorus on the album-opening “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”, and in the throat-tearing Black Francis scream and trainwreck ending that ends the same tune - The Beatings follow this up with two more rock-solid songs, the Bob-Mould bittersweet of “Bury You” and the world weary “Youth Crimes,” before slowing down with the measured gait of “The Sleeper is No Fool.”
Even the songs in the soft middle of the album, where most bands stick their filler, are consistently surprising – suddenly you realize that the kids in “All The Things Your Missing” are dangerously bored, needles are washing up on shore, and menace looms, and lonely-man rant of “Parts Per Notation” builds and builds into an arresting exultation: “I think she’s taking me home… please God, make her take me home.”
All in all, Late Season Kids is a better album than The Beatings’ last one, which was really good. In a just world, it would outsell the latest mediocrities from any dozen Pitchfork-approved artists you could name, and hopefully it will. The Beatings are a band just beginning to hit their stride, and the fact that their latest album is better than their last one in measurable, identifiable ways, suggests that their next record will be their Let it Be… the Beatles or Replacements, take your pick.