Dirty Beaches – Badlands (2011 Zoo Music)

Badlands cover

When I first heard True Blue from Dirty Beaches’ Sweet 16 EP, I have to say I was impressed. The romantic tone and undulating guitars made me want to sit by a fire on a beach at dusk, wrapped in a musty blanket with my best-girl, listening to the waves crash. It was just this over-romanticized vision of 1950s sound that got me hooked. As a sound, it was fresh and really got me interested.

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The Badlands album, however, suffers from too much of a good thing. While an EP of fuzzed out rockabilly guitars is fun, a full albums worth of difficult to decipher eclectic low-fi is a little hard on the ears. Sure there are some interesting moments on Badlands, but after about 4 songs — you get it. You get the whole thing. You think, I hope this changes a little from the predictability of the “dadada-dada-dadada-dada” and it doesn’t. It holds tight — to a fault.

Even wonderful songs like Lord Knows Best begin to grate on your nerves after the repetition of the 5 songs before it. I want to like this album, because I really have been looking forward to it, but as an album it doesn’t hold up. It stubbornly marches to the end without the love or joy you might have expected from the standouts like True Blue or Lord Know Best. By the end, Black Nylon and Hotel gave me distinct impression I was being asked to leave the beach I had so enjoyed hearing snapshots of before.

Rating: 40/100
Released: March 28, 2011

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