For those of you who’ve been asleep for the last two years, we’d like to confirm: the 80s are back. And we don’t mean the shoulder-padded Spandau Ballet variety – it seems we were only ever one Pixies reunion and a Gang Of Four revival away from the wholesale resurrection of the Alternative 80s all along. So, with regards to The Beatings, we’ll get those nods to the Pixies and their ilk out of the way early, if only because it’s not quite fair and not quite accurate.
Boston’s The Beatings, as opposed to the punky UK band of the same name, are the real deal (as opposed to the real Deal), having been ploughing this discordant alt noise-pop furrow for a fair few years. They’re not the bandwagon-jumping Johnny-come-latelys you might have pegged them for. If Not Now, Then When?, the band’s latest self-released offering on their Midriff Records label, is a 5-track prelude to forthcoming second album, Holding On To Handgrenades, scheduled for early next year.
Opener “Feel Good Ending” is a take-no-prisoners turbo-charged stomp-rocker, and catchy as hell with it, that blasts its way to a climactic drum frenzy. “Stockholm Syndrome Relapse”, the other cut from the new album, starts off seductively with a breathy, whispered female vocal and laid-back bass groove, before breaking out into an assured shouty dirge-fest.
Perhaps the most alt-radio-friendly of the tracks, “All Dead Horses” is exactly the kind of thing that’ll have the Kids in a froth of cider-and-black induced pogoing down the local indie disco. Rammed full of jaunty upbeat bass hooks, it’s all that your correspondent can do to stop himself grabbing a pair of Converse and hitting the town.
The EP’s title track, either the weakest or least accessible (depending on how you see it) of the five, while a decent piece of angsty scream-rock, fails to hit the spot in quite the same way. Still, at a 4/5 hit-rate, The Beatings are well above the International Meatloaf Threshold Of Acceptability of 66% (“Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”, natch).
In the case of If Not Now, Then When?, take some advice: if you can’t take a Beating, you might need a hammering. You heard.