Reflects the disjointed and shifting nature of fragile musical alliances.
Sarah Bee 2009
Five years after their debut release Business Casual, Omaha indefinables Beep Beep bring us what they describe as a “disturbingly emasculated masterpiece”. Certainly, it’s far from macho – it’s an intensely serious album by real musicians, jarring and jittery and untrustworthy as the weather. It’s not immediately friendly, and you may never feel like it’s your pal, but it rewards second and third listens.
Beep Beep are labelmates with The Faint and Bright Eyes, and it shows. Only one member, Chris Terry, remains from the original line-up – putting the band in an interesting bracket alongside Napalm Death and the Sugababes – and the music reflects the disjointed and shifting nature of fragile musical alliances.
It’s a long old long-player, clocking in at 14 tracks which take in everything from garage-punk fits to ethereal folk laments. Poised hauteur gives way to soulful vulnerability before the zips are zipped tight again – listening to it isn’t unlike counselling a maudlin-drunk gut-spilling friend who will tell you the next morning that they were totally having you on.
Most beguiling and wide-eyed is Lion's Mouth, which prowls in on a wave of Hammond organ then turns on a sixpence on the plaintive lyric "Where will I go? I'm only eight years old", becoming dreamy and unsettling, with a distinct breath of Radiohead in its poignant wordless refrain. Goodbye Sunshine, meanwhile, swings from mischievous pseudo-country – with a naughty swing of Beck’s old pants – to something that wouldn’t be out of place on a Cure album of yore. It’s all very spartan and measured, punctuated by casual atonal tantrums, slipping from insouciance to cacophony and never giving you an easy listen.
You can name your influence and it’ll be in there, and no unfashionable instrument is taboo. Some saxophone is permitted to nose (beautifully, actually) around Wooden Nickels, while some honest-to-Gaia panpipes wiffle across the intro of Seppuku before being cruelly kicked to death by flailing guitars. The apparent weariness and sullen tones can test you, but then a song will flower into something lovely. It’s an album deserving of a little more than a frown and a chin-stroke.